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Posters and Election Propaganda

A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters

Tagged as “Fairey”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 11:31AM   |  Add a comment
Andrew Redford Young, Poster Promoting Mitt Romney, 2011


So far, it seems that neither major party candidate for the U.S. presidency has inspired many artists to include their images in posters promoting President Barack Obama or former Governor Mitt Romney (There are a number of posters that show the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, however). For Obama, this is a remarkable departure from 2008, when a multitude of graphic designers and painters created posters that depicted the then-Senator from Illinois in a very positive manner. Among the dozens of pro-Obama posters produced four years ago, the most popular were Shepard Fairey's "Hope" and "Change" creations, which were inspiring, patriotic, and conveyed, as Fairey stated, "noble confidence,... a suggestion of looking into the future."

One poster, designed by Andrew Redford Young in 2011, does show Romney in an inspirational and patriotic way. Like Fairey's posters, it bathes Romney in red-white-and-blue, idealizes his features, and has him gazing into the beyond with confidence. Additionally, Young gives Romney a hint of a smile, accompanied by the simple slogan, "Jobs."

Now that the Republican National Convention is over (soon to be followed by the Democratic convention), it will be interesting to see what, if any, imagery includes the candidates in poster designs.

 

 



 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:20PM   |  1 comment
Shepard Fairey, Cover Rolling Stone [Based on a photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivals/AP Images] (August 20, 2009 issue)

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.]


Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:25PM   |  Add a comment
Shepard Fairey and his "Progress" Poster (http://www.bloomberg.com)

Guerrilla artist Shepard Fairey's posters, done in support of Barack Obama's candidacy for the U.S. presidency,  won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2009 contest, which was organized by the Design Museum of London.

Fairey's posters triumphed over 90 other designs.

Fairey was praised by the judges for designing posters that “breathed new life into a form that had lost its purpose,” and because the posters “came not from a marketing campaign, but as a self-initiated fundraising campaign.”

Some other awards—in individual categories—included the following:

Interactive: Make Magazine, which covered home kits to make technology projects easily.

Fashion: Italian Vogue’s “Black Issue,”  which pictured four black models on the cover and was devoted exclusively to successful black women.

Product: Singgih S. Kartono, who designed the Magno Wooden Radio, which was made of local, sustainable materials in an Indonesian village.

Architecture: Snohetta, for designing Norway's New Oslo Opera House.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&refer=muse&sid=aw6fyV9zlHpA


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:14AM   |  2 comments
Shepard Fairey, "Arm Yourself," Ad for Saks Fifth Avenue (Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company)

Saks Fifth Avenue hired guerilla artist Shepard Fairey recently to design advertisements, catalog covers, and shopping bags. Fairey became famous as the designer of several posters of Barack Obama during his run for the U.S. presidency, one of which was sold on Obama's Web site.

As with the Obama poster creations, Fairey's commercial work is influenced by Soviet Constructivist Art from the 1920s and 1930s, especially the work of Alexander Rodchenko, who combined photographic images, slanted perspectives, and bright, primary colors. He also borrows from the Bauhaus School, whose artists frequently used diagonal lines and lettering. These influences are evident in Fairey's ad for a slouchy bag, for example, which features an angled model with a raised fist—indicating that she is for the "rights of the people" as well as "arming" herself with a slouchy bag—along with red areas and white diagonal lines.

All of Fairey's work is propaganda, but in the best sense: it's goal is to influence an audience's emotions to promote a product, often inspiring viewers. According to Terron Schaefer, senior vice president for marketing at Saks, as quoted in The New York Times: "What we do very day, really, is propaganda." All advertising can be considered propaganda, of course. But I think that Fairey's comment about his work for Saks (also quoted in The New York Times) is more on the money when he stated that his goal was just to get attention.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:15AM   |  1 comment
National Portrait Gallery, Shepard Fairey's "Hope" Poster, 2009

Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster, which became the most famous icon of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, DC, on January 17. Fairey is a guerrilla artist, who previously was best known for his  "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" street-art posters and stickers, which promoted the huge wrestler in the late 1980s.

The National Portrait Gallery's blog stated: "Early in 2008, Fairey produced his first Obama portrait, with a stenciled face, visionary upward glance, and the caption 'Progress.' In this second version, Fairey repeated the heroic pose and patriotic color scheme, substituting the slogan 'Hope' .... The campaign sold 50,000 official posters; a San Francisco streetwear company produced T-shirts; grassroots organizations disseminated hundreds of thousands of stickers; and a free downloadable version generated countless repetitions."


Posted by Steven Seidman at 4:31PM   |  Add a comment
MoveOn.org, "Yes We Did," 2008


MoveOn.org just announced that it is selling a "Yes We Did" poster. It features the now-famous Shepard Fairey image of Barack Obama and the Obama-for President-logo, with flowing red-and-white stripes added, as well as a crowd of supporters in the background. It also added the phrases "United We Progress Toward a More Perfect Union," "Together We Made History," and "People Powered."

The posters are 24" x 36" and cost $20 for one copy. The money will fund the organization's future campaigns.

MoveOn.org has 4.2 million members.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 11:15AM   |  Add a comment
Ray Noland, "The Dream," 2008 (http://gotellmama.org)


Some of the posters promoting Democratic candidate Barack Obama are vaguely familiar in their "revolutionary" design. Most are unauthorized by his campaign, in that they have been produced and disseminated by artists who support Obama, but are posting and/or selling these posters independently.

Some have termed the imagery devised for Obama as indicative of a "personality cult," similar to what artists developed for Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che, and other authoritarian leaders. Peggy Shapiro, for instance, referring to Shepard Fairey's idealized portraits of Obama (as well as those by Russian artists of Soviet dictators), wrote that they depicted "the leader, face illuminated by 'holy' light, look[ing] off to the horizon and see[ing] the truth that is not available to his mere mortal followers, who must look up to his image." The image that Fairey created of Obama (shown previously in another post in this blog) may be "revolutionary," but it is much more subtle than the Cuban posters showing raised rifles and fists. It is a simplified portrait of the candidate with light and patriotic colors enveloping him, with the blue a lot lighter and softer than on the flag.

While there are those on the right who insist that the Democratic candidate is himself a "radical"—associating with such as William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright—there is little evidence to substantiate this allegation. What does seem to be the case is that artists such as Fairey and Ray Noland have incorporated radical imagery into their designs to promote Obama's election. Noland, for example, in his poster "The Dream," shows Obama—bathed in light—gazing into the distance, with a sun and rays as a backdrop. The iconography is religious, but similar to some Mao posters.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 9:42AM   |  3 comments
Studio Number One, Shepard Fairey and One of His Obama Posters, 2008


Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" street-art posters and stickers, which promoted the huge wrestler in the late 1980s, designed a poster for the Obama campaign that was both patriotic (it's red-white-and-blue, albeit more subtle than the usual election posters) and iconic.


The imagery, according to Fairey, is meant to convey "noble confidence,... a suggestion of looking into the future." The word "Obey" (in the Andre poster) has been replaced by "Change" in the Obama design (He also produced two others with "Hope" and "Progress). I would agree that Fairey's imagery helps promote the Obama brand: he appears to be fresh, cool, and progressive. The artist has the Democratic candidate gazing upwards, a technique used in many propaganda posters, including one for President Gerald Ford in 1976, for example. Fairey has stated that his Obama designs were influenced, stylistically, by Soviet posters, in fact. Of course, almost all advertising and political marketing are propagandistic.


Fairey's "Change" poster was available on Obama's Web site, and has sold out. It was featured on the front page of The New York Times, and has also been seen on bumper stickers and billboards. His Andre posters and stickers (and others he created) were often used in guerrilla-marketing campaigns, meaning they were put up illegally in a variety of places. And before his poster was distributed officially by the Obama campaign, it reportedly authorized Fairey to do so in a guerrilla campaign. Since his creation was posted online, it also spread virally.

 

 

 

 


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