With the presidentials exactly a week away, election fever soars. During my stay in San Francisco last week I discovered the streets and windows plastered with electoral posters. Amongst them were some beautiful artist's creations. I had already heard from star type designer Jonathan Hoefler's purely typographic design, and found the Artists for Obama gallery featuring the other posters on Barack Obama's website. All art and merchandise were donated to the campaign by the artists to help raise money to support the Democratic presidential candidate in his bid for the White House.
I was quite impressed by the outpour of support from the artistic community – which also led to the compilation of the Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement music album – as I hadn't seen anything like this yet. And the campaign also spurs interest in typography. When walking down Geary Street at Union Square last Friday I overheard a snippet of a lively conversation which made me smile. It went something like: "… use Trajan, Trajan all the time, whereas he uses Gotham…" (Gotham is the official campaign typeface for Barack Obama).
Obama 08 | Lance Wyman
Lance Wyman's creation is a striking op art design in red, white and blue. The line pattern emanating from the diagonal "OBAMA'08" is a conceptual visualization of Barack Obama's dialogue with the American people. Wyman explains that the constructivist lettering is formed by outer energy, the red, white and blue of America. The presidential candidate's name is also the centre that inspires the energy of an American environment of change.
Words of Change | Gui Borchert
Detail from Words of Change | Gui Borchert
Gui Borchert's artwork is pretty impressive – he created an entirely typographical portrait of Obama using over twenty thousand of his words, which were carefully arranged in different sizes and colours. The detail of the poster illustrates the intricacy of Borchert's work. All type was set in what looks like Helvetica Condensed (I'm not 100% certain), not only to compose Obama's portrait but also for the big Gotham characters in the background. Type within type as it were. Borchert previously used the same technique for his type texturized illustrations of rock icon Jimi Hendrix.
Possible | Jonathan Hoefler
Jonathan Hoefler didn't need long to decide which approach he would take when he was commissioned to create a poster for Barack Obama. "I knew immediately that I wanted to work with the text of his stirring speech, A More Perfect Union. Barack Obama is a leader unique in the history of our nation, who not only understands but embodies what it means to be an American in the 21st century: not only to reflect on our rich heritage, but to embrace our possibilities." Hoefler used his own Verlag, one of the six typefaces originally created for the Guggenheim Museum. I'm a teensy bit disappointed in his submission, as the delightful samples he designs for his typefaces are always a treat and considerably stronger than his Obama poster. Maybe it is too subtle to work well as a poster.
Hope | Robert Indiana
"HOPE" is a reinterpretation of American artist and sculptor Robert Indiana's iconic "LOVE" sculpture. This should be classified as an art print more than a poster, as the print – silk screened with archival paints in colours on 100% rag acid free paper – has a limited run of 150 and costs a hefty US$ 2,500.
"Sea to Shining Sea" by master printmaker Lou Stovall falls in the same category. This piece measures 20″ x 20″ and is limited to only 200; it costs US$1,000.
Yes We Can | Antar Dayal
Antar Dayal's artwork is inspired by Barack Obama's words, wisdom, accomplishments, and expression of his and his compatriots' hopes and dreams for a better America. The hand drawn portrait is bold and expressive, thanks to the blue monochrome treatment offset against the red and white background. The portrait of Senator Obama was created on a scratchboard coated with an ultra-smooth absorbent Kaolin clay ground. After the image area was sprayed with black China Ink fine lines were engraved into the surface sculpting shadows and highlights.
Progress | Scott Hansen
Scott Hansen a.k.a. ISO50 wanted to create an image that evoked the ideals he feels are central to the needs of the American people at this critical time in history: change, progress and hope. It became a texture-rich image full of detail; warm and colourful, and rife with symbolism. Apparently the colors on the JPEG above don't come through as well as they did in print and there's a lot of fine detail that's lost at this size, so you'll have to stretch a little bit to imagine what the real thing looks like. I personally like the hand made feel and the beautiful way the Obama campaign logo was incorporated into the overall image.
CHANGE | Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey wanted to make an art piece of Barack Obama because he thought an iconic portrait of him could symbolize and amplify the importance of his mission. And as far as iconic portraits go, Fairey knows his stuff. Not only was his print sold out in no time, but it is the only one that gave birth to a plethora of spin-