The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The artist who created the Obama ‘Hope’ posters is back with new art this inauguration

(Courtesy of the Amplifier Foundation)

Shepard Fairey’s stenciled red, blue and beige poster of President Obama with the word “Hope” beneath it became an iconic image of the president’s 2009 inauguration and presidency, plastered on people’s shirts and walls across the country. This inauguration, Fairey’s signature designs are back with a similar message of hope.

Ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Fairey launched the “We the People Campaign,” which he says focuses on the groups that Trump disparaged in his campaign and that may feel threatened by the incoming administration. The campaign includes three posters by Fairey of an African American, Latino and Muslim woman. Artists Jessica Sabogal and Ernesto Yerena also contributed art to the campaign.

“In 2008, I viewed Obama as an inspiring speaker and leader but also someone who would potentially help push progress on a number of issues that I care about. Many of those issues were about basic human dignity and fairness,” Fairey wrote in an email. “I think that this campaign is similar in its appeal to human dignity and fairness, but different in that the subjects are not people who have aspirations as leaders. They are any and all of us.”

The Amplifier Foundation, which describes itself as an “art machine for social change,” started an online fundraiser to launch the “We the People” campaign. It ultimately raised more than $1.3 million.

The foundation is making the art free to the public, distributing the posters at Metro stations the day of the inauguration and providing them online to download. The campaign purchased a full-page ad in The Washington Post on Friday, so people can use the ad as their poster the day of inauguration. (Here is where the art will be distributed in Washington on Inauguration Day.)

Fairey, who is Los Angeles-based, said he does not know how many posters will be in the nation’s capital. He said organizers will continue to disseminate the art after inauguration.

“It’s hard to say, because we are dealing with some complicated logistics to distribute in D.C. but many thousands of posters are being printed, along with a poster formatted ad in The Washington Post,” he wrote. “We printed 8,000 posters and some large banners for distribution in Los Angeles.”

Fairey will be in California during the inauguration for an art show opening he has called “American Civics.” On Saturday, he will be participating in the Los Angeles chapter of the Women’s March on Washington. He will also be DJing with Moby at the march.

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