Monday, 28 September 2009


With the arrival of the United States' first black president there was bound to be hype and excitement. Something that I was quite surprised to see was white, middle class British boys wearing Obama t-shirts.
Shepard Fairey's iconic image of President Obama has spread like wildfire all over the world, reaching the smallest pockets of society. His image conjures up memories of Warhol's pop art portrait of Marylin Monroe but unlike Warhol, Fairey himself is relatively unknown.
Frank Shepard Fairey came up through the ranks of graphic design and illustration on the skateboarding scene, designing t-shirts and stickers for his associates. He eventually hit the big time and designed album sleeves and book covers for the likes of Johnny Cash, The Smashing Pumpkins and Led Zepplin.
In the midst of Barrack Obama's 2008 campaign, Fairey's Hope image began to spread. 300,000 stickers and 500,000 posters were sold of the image- testament to the poignancy of the image's connotation. After worldwide circulation, earning Fairey status on the art scene, Fairey was arrested on two warrants for graffiti. Obama's party were unable to use the image in their campaign or be seen to applaud it as the image had been "perpetuated illegally"( Regardless, Fairey achieved a great feat; making politics cool.

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