About this blog
A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters
Friday, August 7, 2009
Shepard Fairey is at it again, taking an Associated Press photograph of Barack Obama, and creating a new image of the president, which is displayed on the cover of the August 20th issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
Fairey’s three 2008 poster designs—sloganed “Hope,” “Progress,” and “Change”—were the most influential and iconic of the hundreds created in support of Obama, with the “Hope” poster the most ubiquitous. Fairey, a guerrilla street artist who has been frequently arrested for tagging private and public property with graffiti without obtaining permission, transformed a news photograph, taken of Obama during the campaign, into a stenciled portrait, accompanied by the “Hope” slogan, which also appeared virally on countless car bumpers, coffee mugs, T-shirts, and Web sites, with more than 300,000 copies of the poster sold. Others used computer plug-ins and tutorials to create their own versions of Fairey’s design.
His red-white-and-pale-blue work on the cover of Rolling Stone depicts Obama as deep in thought, with what appears to be a halo of stars and a seal around his head. The seal reads "Will he take bold action or compromise too easily?" According to an article in the NY Daily News, the artist stated that he did not mean to show a halo; rather, there is just a presidential seal behind him. Fairey also said that he did not mean to be critical of the president: "It's one thing to be running for president and it's another to be President and I think this new illustration that I did hopefully captures the complexity and the weight of his new role," he declared.
[Thanks to Rebecca Borowski and Gordon Stewart III for alerting me to the story in the NY Daily News.]
Monday, August 3, 2009
In late June, Cowan's Auctions, Inc. auctioned off an ambrotype of a "wide awake" marcher for Abraham Lincoln during his 1860 campaign for president of the United States. The ambrotype brought in a record $10,575.
The "wide awakes" were typically young men, who marched for the Republicans in huge torch-lit parades, sometimes singing political songs. Lincoln, himself, coined the term for these supporters, according to The New York Times, saying in Hartford, Connecticut: "The boys are wide awake. Suppose we call them the 'Wide-awakes'." These men wore oil-cloth covered caps and capes, and swung torches during campaign rallies and marches in support of the Republican ticket of Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin. The marcher pictured in the ambrotype also carried a campaign banner (see a similar one to the right) for Lincoln and Hamlin.
The Republicans organized parades and rallies, with free food and drink provided, and Lincoln’s supporters also published two weekly newspapers, both called The Rail Splitter, which not only propagated his stands on issues, but also raised funds. The overriding issue of the campaign was slavery expansion, which had finally reached the crisis stage, after decades of agitation by abolitionists and proslavery expansionists.
Much more on the epic 1860 campaign is included in my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.