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Shepard Fairey's Obama Posters

About a week ago, I ran across some references online to a new set of posters by famed "Obey Giant" graphic artist/illustrator Shepard Fairey which depict Barack Obama in a retro social realism propaganda style. Fairey had apparently printed up hundreds of them on newsprint and sold them dirt cheap in packs to folks willing to wheatpaste them up around their Super Tuesday state, with any proceeds going back into the Obama campaign.

There are three prints (that I know of) in the set - the one you see here ("Hope"), another one identical to it but with the word "Progress" below it, and one without Obama's image but instead with a ballot box and the word "Vote." He's since released each of these as signed, limited edition silkscreens or offset prints, with editions ranging from 300-600. (There are also open edition, unsigned glossy lithos of at least the "Hope" poster being given out by Obama's campaign at rallies around the country.)

I've always loved Fairey's "Obey Giant" stuff, but honestly hadn't thought about or seen any of his work in some time. But these instantly grabbed me. Now, I have only recently embraced Obama as my pick for president - I was an early Edwards fan, but since he dropped out, I've been slowly coming around to the Obama fever. I do see him as way more progressive than Clinton, and his words inspire me a lot more than hers do. But at the same time, I'm not gaga over him (yet). So I think it wasn't so much my interest in Obama for President that made me fall in love with these posters, it was more the graphic style and visual qualities of them.

It helps, of course, that I have longtime loved this style of poster art, and poster art in general. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a fan of street art of all kinds, and I enjoy the subversive aspects to this type of street art in particular. After all, the whole reason I started stencilling oh-so-many years ago was in reaction to the political situation unfolding in the year 2000, i.e. Bush stealing the election, the war in Afghanistan, and the impending (at the time) war in Iraq. Some of my earliest stencils were the Bush head "Evildoer" stencil and the "Resist" fist. So Fairey's latest series definitely caught my attention and made me want to know more.

So I started researching and combing his site for info and eventually gleaned that he was indeed releasing them as art prints, not just the pasters he'd issued before to be actually used on the streets. Sadly, by the time I discovered this info, the "Progress" and "Vote" posters had already been sold out, each in a very short time (like minutes, for the former). Fairey has attained almost cult-like status, and his global fanbase is huge. The good news was that the one I liked the best - "Hope" - was set to be issued on Valentine's day, at a random time, and would only cost $30. That price seemed almost obscene to me, given Fairey's notoriety, the fact that it's a limited edition and signed, and the historic nature of this presidential election and Obama's potential nomination for the Democratic Party. Plus I just really, really liked it. How could I not try to purchase one?

Well, after 40 hours of waiting, obsessively checking and refreshing the website, and scouring the internet until I finally found an Obey Giant forum where I could get information about the impending release time, the prints finally went on sale yesterday around 5pm Eastern. I wasn't online at the moment they went up, but thankfully due to the late hour on a Friday and probably the fact that lots of fans had given up after experiencing the Obeygiant.com site repeatedly crashing and being unavailable (due to high volume of traffic), many had given up. So after 5 hours of refreshing, I did finally get through around 10pm last night and scored my very own signed and numbered copy of this poster, for which I can't wait until it arrives.

Now if I can just track down a copy of the "Vote" poster - even a paster will do for me - I can have them framed together!

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