Arts & Living Arts & Living
Street Artist Fairey Gives Obama a Line of Cred
BY WILLIAM BOOTH  |  MAY 18, 2008

Shepard Fairey on the creative choices behind his Barack Obama poster.

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Fairey begins with a news photograph of Obama, grabbed from Google images. He wants his Obama "wise but not intimidating."

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The artist simplifies: Fairey straightens Obama's jacket lapels, eliminates facial lines, creates geometric shapes. "I want strong," he says.

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Fairey employs a red, white and blue patriotic palette, but plays with the colors, using beige for white, a pastel blue, lots of red.

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Red? "People are freaked by red," Fairey says. Perhaps flashing on socialist constructivist propaganda? "But I say don't let the Soviets steal our red. Red is a good primary color," he says.

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Bold lettering: "PROGRESS." When the Obama campaign orders posters, it's switched to "CHANGE."

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Instead of a flag pin, Fairey inserts one of his own Obey Giant logos, transforming the poster into collectible art.

ILLUSTRATION: Shepard Fairey; WEB PRODUCER: Maura McCarthy - washingtonpost.com

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