Shepard Fairey's Obama poster

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44 Responses to “Shepard Fairey's Obama poster”

  1. Jeff says:

    I don’t like red, much, so the work does not appeal to me, much. Besides, I’m in the Communist Green Party. Our logo is The One Tree, and it’s Green with a Gold circle around it. Very handsome. I think all of you should join the C.G. Party. We’re all about love and brothership and trees. We rock.

  2. liberalart says:

    @19 It’s not a troll comment. I design for progressive campaigns and orgs and I’m constantly fighting well-intentioned but messy input from volunteers.

    If you think message and aesthetics don’t have to mesh up, go read the threads on techpresident.com about the new obama site (which i largely like). Dems and Reps alike have expressed issue with the overly blue look as being counter to his reaching out message. And that’s just on the color…

    Design is a very small part of the overall effort of a campaign, but it shouldn’t cause problems or stick out. But please begin to explain the problems with my comments on the culture wars…

    You seem to be the expert. But my experience in campaigns across the country tells me that those themes play a major part in the South, West and major purples like Ohio.

    But clearly you’re not nearly as familiar with Obama’s messaging as you think you are. He’s reaching out to Red Staters in what you might call dead-ender states like Kansas. You don’t think folks are concerned with their guns and bibles in Kansas? Maybe you’ve been out of the country for a while.

    His appeal to independents and cross-over voters is key to his 50-state strategy. His campaign is heavily influenced by recent red state successes like Schweitzer. Hell, why do think he risked alienating the gay vote by holding gospel concerts with prominent ex gays and homophobes. He’s reaching across the aisle to your dead enders.

    And why do you think there hasn’t been a single pro gun control Dem since Gore bit it over Columbine. Obviously, every feasible Dem that ran this cycle is concerned with what dead-enders think.

    And no, I don’t think the typical voter will make the Mao connection. But will a well informed consultant toss this in a Oppo file for some point when it may be pertinent? Yes.

    And that’s what I was talking about, as professional campaign staff we often have to work around well intentioned supporters. Sometimes it works very well as with Phil’s 1984 video for Obama, but there the 1984 aesthetic was turned against the Hillary. Here, I don’t believe the hipster ironic aesthetic works in Obama’s favor.

    And I completely agree with (2) which is why I think designers shouldn’t add to the problems with really cool looking but ill-informed designs.

  3. AwesomeRobot says:

    @ COAXIAL

    Yeah – I can find at least 2 quotes where he said he’s setting the goal to 2011 and he wouldn’t make any promises

    So it seems he changed his position a bit, changed for the better mind you – but this doesn’t really make me feel confident about his future positions.

  4. ill lich says:

    A very similar color photocopy was posted around my neighborhood this morning, but it says “HOPE” at the bottom, and looks more fauvist than Soviet. I should’ve snapped a photo.

    If he changed the colors a bit I suspect the Soviet impression will be replaced by fauvism. (Why’s it always gotta be red-white-and-blue?)

  5. Moon says:

    Shouldn’t that read “CHANGE”?? – that’s what he’s babbling on about all the time, as well as the rest of them.

    Of COURSE, everybody wants change, though. Look what we’ve had for the last 7 years.

  6. the_boy says:

    @ #3

    The image reminded me of the broad fields of limited color that happen when images are converted down to bmp. The color palette, and the smooth effect without rogue pixels, make the image work way better, but it still has a resemblance of the broad reductionist quality. The image is fantastic; I should have just attributed this more to early printmaking than to goofing around on paint as inspiration.

    The propaganda angle is right one, but it seems more subdued than soviet posters. This is not a man giving a speech or emanating an image of overt strength. It looks more like a man sitting in a legislature and troubled by what he hears. The technique is propagandish – the pose just doesn’t seem to fit.

  7. mellowknees says:

    @#17 –

    I’m sure you’ve never ever changed any opinion of yours over the course of time, huh?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I spoofed Fairey’s poster in shades of beige.
    OBAMA: HOPE=TAUPE
    http://pageslap.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/obama-hope-poster-taupe/

  9. Takuan says:

    cheap inks

  10. Anonymous says:

    Question: I am a graphic design student and I love the look of the print. I have been trying to re-create it and am having quite a time. Anyone know how he did it? I have tried hue and saturation, and various other coloring techniques, but can’t get the same results. Any takers?

  11. the_boy says:

    I like it, but couldn’t the same effect more or less be made by taking a jpeg photo down to a 16 color bitmap in paint?

  12. billy says:

    sorry but ‘gag me with a spoon’ is all that jumped to mind

  13. License Farm says:

    @#1 The Boy: That seems to be the modern equivalent of “my kid coulda painted that.” The point being, sure, perhaps you might have been able to achieve the same results, but you didn’t. He did. It looks great, however he achieved the results. Is that not enough?

    @#2 Billy: I’m glad the voice of Valley Girls from 1984 are still present in our public discourse.

  14. jeremedia says:

    Awesome. I, like totally, think “PROGRESS” is totally a better tagline that “HOPE”. For real!

    Hope is good to feel, progress is great to achieve.

  15. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    No, Shepard Fairey’s poster could not be created by mechanically using a single-step Photoshop transformation. No, his poster is not in the tradition of Communist propaganda. No, there’s nothing mysterious about making 100 copies and ending the run; it’s called a limited-edition print, and it’s a very common business model.

    The work is poster-style art: severely limited palette, strongly contoured color areas. That’s derived from a repro technique, not a political position. The image itself is straightforward — a bit retro, but very much in the style of American campaign posters. It’s more beautiful and better designed than they tended to be, but it’s absolutely in an American style.

    LiberalArt, you’ve come off sounding like a troll. Wouldn’t it have been better to admit that Shepard Fairey directly competes with your business? I went and looked. You design political ad campaigns, logos, and websites, and your work isn’t nearly as striking as Shepard Fairey’s.

    MercerMachine was right to question whether someone with your evident liberal arts background could be getting those readings from Fairey’s poster:

    “This poster may appeal to die hard supporters, especially younger ones given our nation’s crappy knowledge of history, but it’s a liability to the campaign.

    The Obama cult of personality takes on disturbing proportions as it begins to inspire neo-Maoist imagery. This poster has a creepy 1984 vibe with it’s imperative message to progress.

    But maybe the campaign likes the cult of personality because there are already variations of this with “HOPE” outside the debate Thursday night.

    But I think the visual association with totalitarian leftist movements like Mao’s and Stalin’s are problematic for the campaigns message of one nation and unity given the the Right is already overly concerned about the culture wars. This feeds that concern by associating his throngs of supporters with the Cultural Revolution, coming to your home soon to take your bibles and guns and re-educate you.

    The artist has every right to make this poster, but if he’s a supporter, he may be doing more harm than he realizes…”

    I don’t think you read any of those meanings into it. I think you just claimed you did, in an attempt to diss your commercial competition.

    Please take it personally if I decline to have you involved in any future project where I have a say about which artist is used.

  16. shoffs says:

    I love this print,.and it has definitely had a huge impact not only on Obama’s campaign but on society. It is very simple yet incredibly bold and unforgettable (now at least). I have to say though, the mind blowing amount of Obama art and posters that has come about since the campaign and election has produced some of the coolest and meaningful Obama posters that really capture the essence of Obama and showcase what he stands for. I only wish some of those posters become more known and can be seen by the masses.

  17. robin_hood says:

    let the ebay sales commence

  18. phazeaction says:

    @ THE BOY, and to a much lesser extent THE LICENSE FARM: no. you can not create the same effect in the manner described.

  19. cowlessPatty says:

    a mashup of “Yes We Can” by will.i.am and the Tide “talking stain” commercial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p6OGdRfL9g

  20. Jack says:

    Seeing a JPEG is nothing compared seeing a physical print. I regret not knowing about this sooner because I would have snatched one up right away.

  21. Carl Rigney says:

    “Progress” also fits across the bottom better than “Hope”. The propaganda effect of the use of red and blue is quite nice (see how Progress is all in blue?). I wonder if it’ll start showing up at rallies and meetups. Very nice design.

    @#4, “Hope is not a feeling. Hope is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the conviction that what we are doing make sense, no matter how things turn out.” — Vaclav Havel

  22. emdubl says:

    speaking of “let the ebay sales commence”, this site has a decent number of the prints for sale: http://buythegiant.com/Art/Prints

  23. loudiamondphillips says:

    Carl Rigney:

    This is creepily close to communist propaganda posters, is it not? Stalin?

    It’s very cool, and effective I think. The first thing that I thought of, though, was “soviet”. Hmm.

  24. Takuan says:

    yeah, Warholian Comrade

  25. noen says:

    All of Shepard’s work is “close to communist propaganda posters.” I like the poster, it will be interesting to see if he develops it further.

  26. RandomReader999 says:

    Hi all:

    just made a rude comment about CC licensing for digital versions of this image. Have asked to have it removed.

    Mr. Fairey has generously provided an 8.5 X 11 copy of this poster for download at:

    http://obeygiant.com/images/barack_poster_bw-85×11.pdf

    I can’t figure out the exact licensing but the disclaimer on his site seems to say fair use not for profit:

    http://obeygiant.com/post/obama-pasters-update

    Anyway, thanks Mr. Fairey. Not sure if blowing the thing up to say 18*24 and posting it in your apartment window is obeying or not but I may do just that.

    Only a few days left all!!!

  27. Motisbeard says:

    It looks great, although I have to agree with LOUDIAMONDPHILLIPS that it looks rather Soviet.

    Why PROGRESS, though? Obama isn’t going to repeal the Patriot Act, or close Guantanamo, or stop us from acting like swaggering cops all over the world. Someone please shake the artist awake and point him to some sites where he can look at the voting records of candidates and see where they get their money.

  28. Takuan says:

    from where America is today, just about anyone could guarantee progress

  29. coaxial says:

    @MOTISBEARD

    Yes, he will fix the PATRIOT Act. Yes, he will close gitmo. Yes, he will end the war.

  30. burningrome says:

    Progress….Hope….those are all good taglines, but what about OBEY?
    ….I’d vote for Obama if I could.

  31. burningrome says:

    Progress….Hope….those are all good taglines, but what about OBEY?
    ….I’d vote for Obama if I could.

  32. mercermachine says:

    @22-

    If you say you work for progressive campaigns, I won’t argue. Though I notice you don’t say liberal, or even Democratic campaigns.

    To quote Niels Bohr, an expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. Trying to tie this poster’s design to the ‘culture wars’, the Cultural Revolution or Stalinist communism seems to fit the description.

    There’s no such thing as a dead-end state. Not this election cycle at least. There are, however, dead end voters. The ones who will never vote for a black man, period. The ones who will never vote for a woman, period. The ones who will never vote for a Democrat, period. In short, the ones who are afraid of Liberals “coming to your home soon to take your bibles and guns and re-educate you.”

    The whole gist of your post was that Obama mustn’t upset this core Republican constituency or give them a reason not to vote for him. The whole point of my post is that they aren’t going to vote for him, ever. I grew up in the buckle of the frigging Bible belt. I know my people, sad to say.

    “…will a well informed consultant toss this in a Oppo file for some point when it may be pertinent? Yes.”

    Maybe so, but it will never *be* pertinent. That’s my whole point.

  33. Wirelizard says:

    If it looks kind of Communist, it’s probably because the Russians had some pretty cool graphic artists working for them, back in the day.

    Then they all got shipped to Siberia.

  34. mennonot says:

    This Obama poster is being used as a basis for the banners outside Chicago city hall congratulating Obama on his victory:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/politics&id=6490271

  35. Takuan says:

    The Chinese too

    http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/

    …I really would have liked to have killed Mao

  36. Chris Tucker says:

    Yeah, it’s a damned shame how those awful Obama posters just caused Obama’s campaign to crash and burn.

    Oh, wait.

  37. Motisbeard says:

    COAXIAL:

    Oh gee, he’s flip-flopped again. I sure do trust a man who changes his position constantly.

  38. brundlefly76 says:

    I dont get it – the artist supports Obama and creates an outstanding poster that sells out in a day, but for some reason does not want to make more?

  39. LOLcat Stevens says:

    I like Obama, and I often like Fairey’s designs, but I really dislike this one. For one thing, it looks kind of half-assed, like a barely-modified result of using a Photoshop cutout filter. That’s kind of a minor quibble, though. My main reason for not liking it is just that it seems to work against it’s own purpose (presumably supporting Obama).

    The communist propaganda aesthetic has become a pretty central part of the “Obey” brand, and I think that part of the reason the designs are so successful is that they contain some mixture of earnestness and irony. The ones that contain a hopeful message are made somewhat sinister by their transparently manipulative aesthetic. That’s a great combination for mild subversion, but it’s a horrible combination for expressing political support.

    It’s interesting to consider how a similar image expressing support for Hillary might be perceived.

  40. liberalart says:

    This poster may appeal to die hard supporters, especially younger ones given our nation’s crappy knowledge of history, but it’s a liability to the campaign.

    The Obama cult of personality takes on disturbing proportions as it begins to inspire neo-Maoist imagery. This poster has a creepy 1984 vibe with it’s imperative message to progress.

    But maybe the campaign likes the cult of personality because there are already variations of this with “HOPE” outside the debate Thursday night.

    But I think the visual association with totalitarian leftist movements like Mao’s and Stalin’s are problematic for the campaigns message of one nation and unity given the the Right is already overly concerned about the culture wars. This feeds that concern by associating his throngs of supporters with the Cultural Revolution, coming to your home soon to take your bibles and guns and re-educate you.

    The artist has every right to make this poster, but if he’s a supporter, he may be doing more harm than he realizes…

  41. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Ignore it. It’s just a precooked talking point.

  42. mercermachine says:

    #19: “…problematic for the campaigns message of one nation and unity given the the Right is already overly concerned about the culture wars…”

    This comment has so many problems, I hardly know where to begin.

    1) Anyone so rabidly right-wing as to believe that Democrats are going to take away their ‘guns and bibles’ is very unlikely to have the liberal arts education that would allow them to make a connection between this poster and Mao or Stalin.

    2)As if they wouldn’t find any/every excuse to villify Democrats anyway.

    3)As if Democrats should concern themselves with what the dead enders think of them.

    4)Finally, as if anyone should pay attention to such a concern-troll comment.

  43. pylb says:

    Fairey’s just making a buck off the Obama love-fest.

    What I want to know is, why doesn’t Fairey cite the photographer whose work was clearly co-opted for this print?

    Because he’s just making a buck. It’s what he’s always done. And he never gives appropriate credit to the sources he traces or stencils over. Did the estate of André René Roussimoff (Andre the Giant) see a dime from all the Obey merchandise? No.

    Street art fans love to complain about corporate marketers co-opting graf styles, but they overlook the fact that guys like Fairey are usually tracing someone else’s work and selling it as their own.

  44. mrsomuch says:

    @ 39 -
    Are you trying to mimic this effect in photoshop?

    That may be your problem, you want to be screen printing.

    also, being awesome helps too.

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