Obama "Hope" Posters

Obama "Hope" Posters

Part of a series on Barack Obama. [View Related Entries]

Updated Aug 11, 2015 at 02:24AM EDT by Brad.

Added Aug 27, 2009 at 03:10PM EDT by Jostin Asuncion.

PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.



The Obama "Hope" Poster is an iconic image of Barack Obama created by graphic designer and street artist Shepard Fairey[1] during the 2008 United States presidential election. Made with a stylized stencil of an Associated Press photograph of the then U.S. Senator Barack Obama, the posters were created independently of the official campaign. After the image was shared online, parodies of the poster depicting other notable figures and characters began appearing as well, mimicking the red, beige and blue color scheme of the original version.


Shepard Fairey began creating street art as early as in 1989 with a viral campaign known as Andre the Giant Has a Posse,[2] which evolved into the OBEY[3] sticker campaign in the following year and has since appeared in numerous locations all over the world.[4] In October 2007, publicist Yosi Sergant suggested to Fairey that he make a piece of art in support of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Fairey then used a photograph (shown below, right) from April 2006, taken by Associated Press freelance photographer Mannie Garcia[5] as the basis for his stenciled poster. The first image he created (shown below, right) had the word "Progress" centered underneath the portrait, with a small OBEY symbol placed inside of Obama's campaign logo.



In January 2008, Fairey put a series of 350 screenprinted Progress posters up for sale on his website[6] and its proceeds to be donated to the Obama campaign fund. They were priced at $45 a piece and sold out within fifteen minutes. However, many of the first editions were resold on eBay for $3000-$10,000 each.[8] Following the initial run, he launched a second series of 3000 posters with the word “Hope” and an unedited version of the Obama logo at the campaign’s request.[9] Both versions, along with an additional poster encouraging people to vote, were put up on buildings in Los Angeles[10] before California’s primaries.[11]


By April, parodies of the poster began appearing online, featuring a wide range of subjects including the Pope[12], Hilary Clinton[13] and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.[14] A similar photo generator ObamiconMe[15] was launched in January 2009 by Paste Magazine, a year after the poster’s original release. After being shared on sites including Metafilter[16], Buzzfeed[17] and Metafilter[18], more than 70,000 images were uploaded to the site in its first two weeks.

Notable Examples


On January 7th, 2009, the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery announced[19] it had acquired Fairey's hand-made version of the image with the word "hope" on it, intending to put it on display before Obama was sworn into office. Following this announcement, many bloggers began looking into the source of the original photograph the stencil was based on. Originally, the poster was thought to be modeled after a picture taken by Reuters photographer Jim Young.[20] However, Philadelphia Inquirer blogger Tom Gralish found the original photograph[21], taken by Associated Press freelancer Mannie Garcia five months prior, on January 21st, 2009.

Onginal Source? A virtual partect match Not orignal saurte Note the eyes danline up.

After AP realized the photo was theirs, they began seeking credit and compensation for its use.[22] As a preemptive strike, Fairey filed a lawsuit on February 9th, 2009[23], asking for a federal judge to declare his work protected as fair use. He also published a response to AP's actions on his blog.[24] When the original photographer was asked for comment, Garcia said while he was proud of the art Fairey created, he does not "condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet."[23]

Destruction of Evidence

On October 16th, 2009, the Associated Press released a statement[25] claiming Shepard Fairey destroyed and fabricated documents relating to the fair use case. Later that day, Fairey spoke with TechCrunch[26], where he admitted that he submitted false images and deleted others as proof of the photo he actually used as a reference to create the Obama poster. After this admission, his suit with the Associated Press was privately settled in January 2011[27], but Fairey plead guilty[28] to a count of criminal contempt in February 2012. With his guilty plea, Fairey was facing up to six months in jail and scheduled to be sentenced on July 16th, 2012.[29] However, there was no news coverage on the sentencing results.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Shepard Fairey

[2] Wikipedia – Andre the Giant has a Posse

[3] OBEY Giant – Home

[4] OBEY Giant – Locations

[5] New York Times – Viewing Journalism as a Work of Art

[6] OBEY Giant – OBAMA

[7] Pentdego – Do It Yourself Barack Obama Poster

[8] Rene Warner – WEB POSTER EXHIBITION – Shepard Fairey posters for Barack Obama

[9] Creativity – Shepard Fairey: Obey Obama

[10] Neu Black – Featured Project- Barack Obama Series by Shepard Fairey


[12] Laughing Squid – “POPE” a Parody of the Popular “HOPE” Obama Poster


[14] The People's Cube – Hope, Dope, Grope, and Other Obamunist Posters

[15] Obamicon.me – Home

[16] Metafilter – Obamicon

[17] Buzzfeed – Make Your Own Obama Style Poster

[18] LifeHacker – Obamicon.Me Turns Snapshots Into Stylized Obama Posters

[19] USA Today – Obama's 'Hope' portrait goes to national gallery

[20] The Daily Beast – The Obama HOPE Photo Mystery Continues!

[21] Philly Inquirer –

[22] New York Times – A.P. Says It Owns Image in Obama Poster

[23] New York Times – Artist Sues The A.P. Over Obama Image


[25] TechCrunch – AP Claims Shepard Fairey Admits To Lying And Trying To Destroy Evidence; His Counsel Quits (Updated)

[26] TechCrunch – Shepard Fairey Responds To The AP: Yes, I Lied. But It Was Still Fair Use.

fn27, New York Times – Shepard Fairey and The A.P. Settle Legal Dispute

[28] New York Times – Shepard Fairey Pleads Guilty Over Obama ‘Hope’ Image

[29] Forbes – Artist Shepard Fairey Pleads Guilty In Criminal Case, Faces Prison Time

Recent Videos

There are no videos currently available.

Recent Images 406 total

+ Add a Comment

Comments (36)

Display Comments

Add a Comment

Hauu! You must login or signup first!