Who Made That Lionel Richie Missing Person Poster? Randy Osborne, Ex-RFT Staffer, Knows

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click to enlarge Street art, internet meme, or both? That is the question. - Randy Osborne?
Randy Osborne?
Street art, internet meme, or both? That is the question.

But let me start by saying ... I love you.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about art. Specifically, street art. As Exit Through the Gift Shop so poignantly illuminated, street art has in recent years become quite the lucrative commodity.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, many street artists choose to remain anonymous. Even the iconic Banksy's identity is still unknown.

The Internet has made street art so easily consumable, that we sometimes cease to think of it as "art." This is where Randy and Lionel come in.

Randy Osborne, who's originally from Rockford, Illinois, has been a journalist for decades. In the early '90s, he and his wife moved to St. Louis. Coincidentally enough, he was hired at the Riverfront Times as a writer and associate editor.

Eventually, his career led him to Atlanta, Georgia, where he writes zines and organizes MOTH events in a neighborhood near Cabbagetown. "It's not too far from my neighborhood, which is Inman Park, the oldest neighborhood in Atlanta," he says via phone. "It's very nice, kinda artsy, but not as hip and cool as Cabbagetown."

Walking through Cabbagetown one day in late February, Osborne saw Lionel Richie's imploring eyes, pouting lips and desperate question stapled to an assuming telephone pole. The poster caught his eye, and he was -- as most of us were when we encountered it online -- tickled by it.

He snapped a photo and posted it on his Facebook page. And the next thing he knew, it was everywhere.

Randy took a few minutes to chat with A to Z about his interaction with the artist who made the poster, that artist's anonymity and the state of street art in Atlanta.

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