Shepard Fairey, what have you created?

Obama brand, Obama poster, OBAMICONMEX Paste Magazine, Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the now iconic Barack Obama poster, has become a brand himself, as much as President Obama. Fairey’s imagery and style have become a worldwide phenomenon. The posters have been translated into many languages, and in France, the style was co-opted for “Sarkobama” posters as political statements.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Mr. Fairey should be living large. Paste Magazine is having some fun with the brand, and everyone can participate. OBAMICONME allows the users to put their image on the poster and create their own message. To date, over 500,000 OBAMICONs have been created.

Irresistible, right? I had to try it. What about you?

11 Responses to “Shepard Fairey, what have you created?”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I wonder if our kids–all of us– are beginning to perceive imitation as creativity. This past Christmas, there were all those stick-your-face- in-the-scene ecards with bobbly heads and such. Everyone was so proud of them and sent them out in droves; great traffic builder for a lot of retail sites. But transposition as art is starting to replace the penned note or a child’s hand drawn art. Technology has made us all artists–or at least we think we are.

  2. janet g Says:

    Hi Stephanie:

    Thanks for your comments. You bring up an interesting point regarding “transposition as art.” I think that as with all modes of communication, art IS being redefined in methodology and content for the technological age. In an age of sharing and social networking, there seems to be less ownership and more of an evolution of idea and content/form. It might be that wherever one user leaves off, that becomes his art and where the next user picks up and adds or changes it, the art becomes his creation.

    Just my take, I’m open to rebuttal, expansion, etc.


  3. Leon Says:

    This is great, I didn’t know anything about it. Thanks for putting this up. My kids will love it!

    The Sarkobama campaign was attributed to Greenpeace, fyi.

  4. steve Says:

    OK, I know it’s just a picture but to me it’s a little creepy and cultish — it’s like all those pictures of the Great Leader that get fetishized in dictatorships everywhere. I don’t mean that we’re a dictatorship, but I like the fact that we live in a place where there are no iconic pictures of great leaders to worship except on our money. And as to whether that’s worth worshipping, I’ll leave to you.

  5. janet g Says:

    Hi Steve:

    I understand your point. The popularity of the poster took off in a way where even the artist was overwhelmed, as Mr. Fairey noted on Charlie Rose.

    I am intrigued by the idea in combination with technology that allows users to “put your face here.” Kind of like the old cut-out figures at a carnival. I’m not advocating political icons or dictators.


  6. lg Says:

    I don’t really know it is is art or technology run amok, but until I read the post from steve, I couldn’t pin down why I didn’t like the poster. I, too, find it very creepy and a call-back to some of the less-than-enchanging leader posters of the ’60’s & ’70’s. Interesting. . . .

  7. janet g Says:

    Everyone is attacking the president’s poster. No one has commented on my Rorschach-like version. Guess it’s frightening, but in a more benign kind of way.


  8. janet g Says:

    I think the poster served as a great piece of promotion and the Obama campaign used it to its fullest advantage. The image also had a life of its own. Call it hope or desperation, people needed something or someone to latch onto to purge themselves of the last eight years. It certainly wasn’t a unanimous need, but still powerful enough in number to make that image iconic.

    That being said, the image served its usefulness. I don’t think we’ll be seeing smaller versions hanging in living rooms, restaurants, etc., being displayed like the pope or the king of Swaziland anytime soon.

  9. steve Says:

    And in music, let’s not forget the heinous practice of “sampling” — the lazy practice of taking the work of someone else and using it instead of creating ab ovo on your own. Or, in a related note, the wonderfully lipsynched version of the national anthem that Jennifer Hudson sang at the Super Bowl or the faked classical performance at the inauguration. God forbid we be subject to actual live performances anymore.

  10. steve Says:

    First off, I like yours better.

    Second, I think it will be hung for a long time. I’ve still been seeing it in windows in Brooklyn.

  11. janet g Says:

    First, thanks for the compliment Steve, but I think you’re just kissing up to the host.

    Second, I’m sure the posters will be hanging around for the duration of the Obama admin. But, I don’t see them becoming the dictator-like phenomenon you’d mentioned.

    When I was traveling in the southwest, I saw presidential posters of 43 everywhere. Granted his poster had not reached the exposure level of Obama, but it’s the same kind of idolatry regardless of the image.

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