SXSW Eco Puts Cultural Thought Leaders Center Stage, Announces Grassroots Activist and Cultural Icon, Shepard Fairey, as Keynote

Place by Design Competition Finalists Announced

Sep 04, 2013, 09:03 ET from SXSW Eco

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AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- SXSW Eco, a conference focused on progressing innovation and action around sustainability initiatives, today announced the contemporary artist and illustrator responsible for the iconic "OBEY" and President Barack Obama's "HOPE" cultural movement campaigns, Shepard Fairey, as final keynote for the event. SXSW Eco has also announced the finalists of its Place by Design competition, a new public space design competition introduced this year that celebrates placemaking through innovative design and the re-thinking of public spaces.    

Shepard Fairey, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, first garnered widespread public attention with his "Andre the Giant Has a Possee" sticker campaign in 1989. From this, came his "Obey Giant" campaign, which has grown into an international movement. 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, a lasting symbol of the 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 facing our time.

"We passionately feel that Shepard embodies one of our fundamental missions as a conference: harnessing culture to drive solutions for our world," said Chris Sonnier, Program Manager of SXSW Eco. "With speakers like Shepard, Reverend Lennox Yearwood and Ron Finley, SXSW Eco is changing the game by not only bringing together industry thought leaders, but also the key cultural leaders who are igniting positive change."

SXSW Eco also today announced the finalists selected for the event's first ever Place by Design competition. The finalists, hand selected by an impressive jury of leading design theorists and professionals, will have an opportunity to exhibit at the event.

The visionary finalists for the Place by Design competition range from up-and-coming young designers to experienced architectural firms. The projects include a billboard turned bamboo garden called Urban Air, a mobile app that encourages people to transform their surroundings into typefaces, a community-designed courtyard in Colombia and a phonebooth transformed into a data-collecting digital kiosk. "The common thread linking all of the finalists is their potential to change the way we all view and interact with public space," added Sonnier.

To view the 15 finalists, visit

SXSW Eco takes place October 7-9, 2013 in Austin, TX. To register to attend, please go to to save before the September 20th deadline. Eco is sponsored by Sierra Club, Austin Energy, ATI Clean Energy Incubator, Lagunitas and the Austin Chronicle. Media partners include Guardian Sustainable Business, Green Building & Design (GB&D), Greentech Media (GTM),, Popular Science and Mother Jones.

About SXSW Eco:
South by Southwest (SXSW) is world renowned for cutting edge cultural, music, interactive, and film conferences and festivals. For SXSW Eco, it employs this experience in creating dynamic forums for innovation and collaboration to likewise serve the sustainability community. SXSW Eco presents a diverse array of interrelated programming. With this diverse programming comes a unique set of participants with which to connect. The laid back atmosphere facilitates open discussion which has led to a number of unexpected collaborations and projects. For more information go to 

Media Contact:

Ariel Miller
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