Shepard Fairey to be a keynote speaker at SXSW Eco. Photo courtesy of SXSW Eco.

SXSW Eco, from October 7-9. 2013 in Austin, Texas, is turning out to be a formidable conference series when it comes to innovation in sustainability, plus pop culture, new inventions, and networking. Their latest announcement is that Shepard Fairey will be the keynote presenter. Obviously a controversial and innovative street artist, it will be interesting to see what he has to say on art as a tool for activism and awareness and how street art has crossed over to reach culture around the world.

Shepard Fairey working it…Photo by Henrik. Chulu.

Here’s more: Shepard Fairey is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Fairey first garnered widespread public attention in 1989 through his “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker which grew into the “Obey Giant” campaign, becoming an international street art phenomenon. In 2008, Shepard created the Barack Obama “HOPE” poster, his most well known project which has become one of the most iconic images in popular culture, an enduring symbol of the groundbreaking presidential campaign.

In recent years, Shepard has tackled environmental issues, expanding his work from its political and social focus. Last year, Shepard took part in an environmental initiative, working with Berlin street artists to create positive propaganda, bringing to light the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment. Simultaneously one of the most influential and controversial artists of our time, Shepard will discuss in his keynote address the potential for art to act as a catalyst for awareness and action; explore the proven, untraditional methods by which to reach culture; and link it with the challenges we currently face.

Shepard’s experience in guerrilla art dovetails with many other citizen-spurred initiatives and game-changing speakers we’re highlighting at SXSW Eco this year, including opening remarks speaker Ron Finley, young entrepreneur Eden Full, the tactical urbanism projects in Place by Design, DIY projects in the Maker Space and the new sharing economy.