The Nation

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From The Nation, February 1, 2008:

Obey Obama

By Cora Currier

An endorsement from an artist might seem insignificant in a presidential campaign, but Barack Obama recently scored an unusual ally in Shepard Fairey, a young artist whose sticker and poster art have catapulted him to celebrity status in America's youth culture. Earlier this week, Fairey put a limited edition poster for sale on his website bearing Obama's face and the word "Progress." The 350 copies sold out within an hour. The proceeds, Fairey explained, would go to a larger postering campaign.

It's this broader campaign that gets at the heart of Fairey's work and could have a small but possibly significant impact among young voters.

Fairey rose to fame via his "Obey Giant campaign," a simple, black-and-white sticker that turned the face of Andre the Giant into an Orwellian set of eyes labeled with the word "obey." His followers soon spread the image, pasting it on street signs and walls across the country. Now the sticker is omnipresent in American cities. Fairey says the purpose of the Obey Giant project was to spread "propaganda for which the motive was not obvious" as a thought-provoking experiment.

Now, the propaganda has a motive. Fairey's work is almost always political, but this is the first time he's made art for a specific candidate. He has a loyal following and the first batch of Obama "pasters"--cheap posters available for request from his website-- are gone already.

Fairey's timing seems a bit off, as the main poster campaign won't be in full swing until after the Super Tuesday primaries next week, and so his propaganda may be spread too late.

But if Obama fares well, I guarantee you can expect this image in a city near you: [Shepard Fairey's print, "Obama Progress."]