When the street artist and guerrilla marketer Shepard Fairey got word from the Obama people that they would welcome his contribution to the campaign, he knew what he wanted to create: a phenomenon.
All political art is propaganda (that is the point), but most political posters are bland, forgettable, wallpaper, like Fred Thompson on an off day. Fairey wanted something more iconic -- aspirational, inspirational -- and cool. In other words, he wanted to make posters that the cool cats would want. The 2008 Democratic primary season equivalent of the Che poster (with all that implies). More Mao, more right now. The kind of poster that might make its way onto dorm room walls of fanboys. The kind of poster that might sell on eBay, as a signed Fairey Obama recently did, for $5,900. He wanted his posters to go viral.
"I wanted strong. I wanted wise, but not intimidating," Fairey says of the look for his Obamas. The agitprop pop art has become a must-have accessory among a certain subset of the candidate's supporters, who have gobbled up more than 80,000 of Fairey's posters and 150,000 postcard-size stickers since Super Tuesday.