by Maggie York-Worth
When Aaron Perry-Zucker sent out an open call for posters inspired by Obamaâs presidential campaign to post on DesignforObama.org, he didnât expect the windfall of high quality art that arrived from around the world. But the icing on the cake was an e-mail from Spike Lee after he stumbled upon one of Perry-Zuckerâs submissions, a recreation of the poster for his movie "Do The Right Thing," and proposed they co-edit a book collection. Thus Design for Obama was born, a book that mirrors the sharing philosophy in which these posters were made.
Launched on 4 November 2009 to commemorate Obamaâs victory, the beautiful book highlights over 200 of the finest posters from DesignForObama.org with full page crisp prints and short bios of each contributor. In his preface, Perry-Zucker illustrates the huge outpouring of support for Obama that inspired such a rich and varied catalog of unique artwork. He writes how âthe Obama campaign found incredible success in using the Internet as a means of organically growing a grassroots army, the energy of which swept Obama into the White House.â
Spike Lee stresses the incredible power of posters as message-makers and how he âhad always been interested in graphics—not just movie posters.â The artwork held particular meaning as a way âto effectively convey the spirit and soul of the film it was trying to sell.â When working with designer Art Sims on the poster for "Do the Right Thing," Lee âwanted people to be like I was—someone who was so moved by that poster that they would tear it off of a wall or a subway train and hang it up in their room.â
In a companion essay, visual arts expert extraordinaire "Hope" poster and the sharing philosophy Fairey promoted with inspiring the artistic boom. This free-for-all of sorts allowed designers and layman alike to âreject bland tropes while making novel graphic statements that reflect the times." Heller points out the incredible power these posters wielded and how they âenabled the artists and designers a chance to take part in the electoral process." DesignForObama.org underscores this message, allowing anyone to download and print all the posters on the site and in the book.
The collection in "Design for Obama" shows a range of styles and themes, many utilizing the Obama campaignâs symbolism, while others create an entirely new visual vocabulary. Comical wordplay such as âBarack you like a Hurricaneâ and âSomewhere Obama the Rainbowâ abound, as well as more heartfelt messages of âHope,â âChangeâ and a whole lot of âYes We Can." These posters convey earnest yearning as well as tremendous triumph.
A particularly well paired set of posters mirror the intense emotions of the campaign before and after Obamaâs election with the text "I'm voting for 'that' one" and "That one that won." In the spirit of the unity and sharing, Perry-Zucker and Lee also included several international posters, highlighting the future president's global support.
"Design for Obama" viscerally portrays the excitement, energy and hope of the time through the strength of its images.