Political art as iconic propaganda? Images are powerful constructs and the visual graphic of a candidate becomes embedded in our minds. Artist and Obama supporter Shepard Fairey, created this Obama poster (and another one with the word HOPE). The limited edition prints sold for $50 from his website and sold out immediately. Look how they were used as graffiti/street art, below right, before Super Tuesday.
This will be the propaganda phenomological graphic that, if it goes viral, may be the most potent political visual tool out there in the everywhere mediasphere. Think Che Guevera.
Fairey was an artist I studied for the impact and understanding he had on media and communication. Media theorist Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message" and this slogan is embraced on Fairey's Obey Giant "experiment in phenomology" that became a street graffiti art propaganda campaign he started while in school in 1986 but has since become world-wide viral like the WWII "Kilroy Was Here" street art graffiti. (A fan continues to blog and follow the Obey Giant campaign which is still potent 22 years later.)
Fairey is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design with a B.A. in Illustration and is a founder of Studio Number One in LA. He grew up skateboarding and the street scene influenced his approach to the communications environment of street/graffiti art and he started by making t-shirts with stencils and paint and then moving to screen printing and his career has grown from those flat dimensional art roots and he sees himself as building on the revolutionary print screen work of pop artist Andy Warhol but with the powerful propaganda appeal of viral street art messages. You can see some of his images through a gallery representing his work. He has also designed anti-Bush posters for a street campaign. His book, "Supply and Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey," was released in July 2006.
Fans have created contageous memes for Obama with that have high traction and stickiness, from Obama Girl to the now-extremely-viral ( a million views per day and produced at no cost) Yes We Can video that I posted about last week in my post about Obama's Rhetorical Power.
I've been watching to see which artist would develop the iconic image might be the one create the powerful image that could glom onto our political thoughts and memories. In September I thought Hillary was leading by visual impact.Fairley has captured the graphic and viral image that I bet will have the strongest graphic visual pop appeal. (4/11 update: Obama has connected with artists)
Republican magnetism? Bush's campaigns were ingenious in doing oppositional branding. Perhaps self-branding and viral political communication methods/techniques aren't gaining traction. Yet. The Republicans are being more esoterical. Perhaps the oppositional branding will stick as it developes? Or maybe the selling of the candidates isn't as savvy? Skateboarding graffiti appeals to the young? Those who like appealing snappy ideas communicated in creative media? Hmmmm. McCain uses "my friends" alot in his rhetoric. Where's the graphic for that? This campaign is full of friends and frienemies. What dark branding might be down the political paths? Obamamania is slick and hip.
The medium is the (very powerful and in this case, graphic) message. Post no Bills? Might not work if this Obama art continues in his Giant graffiti tradition. T-shirt wearers: get ready to buy as I bet Fairley will not copyright the work to speed the viral phenomeme?
newest: The Obama Inauguration Poster is another Fairey piece
Phenomes in Literacy: Peace, Love & Obama-Che
Obama & McCain: Selling Connections
Obama: Winning By Graphic Iconic Iterations
Hottest Political Art for the Presidential Campaign