Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Designing a Presidency

There are so many firsts with Obama's presidency, but the role that art and design played in inspiring and galvanizing people was pretty incredible.

Shepard Fairey’s Hope work is etched in history, but was...only one in a sea of stellar images inspired by Obama and his quest for the White House. Fairey and Evolutionary Media Group founder Jennifer Gross collect much of the best of that historic time in Art for Obama: Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change, a 181-page compendium of the campaign’s artistry.

I had a heated debate with a friend in reference to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. She felt that it wasn't deserved as it was based on his ability to inspire based on words, not deeds. Perhaps in four years times the Prize would be merited on the basis of his actions during the Presidency.

I don't know, it's a fair argument, but there is something about his diplomatic international outreach and completely refreshing honesty and candor, which we have been deprived of for 8 years, that may have culminated in a worldwide feeling of the real possibility for change. And maybe that hope can motivate politicians, business leaders and everyday people to be the best they can be. Perhaps that deserves a Nobel Peace Prize?

The ability to spread this sense of hope needed simple and meaningful slogans, compellingly and consistently communicated, but also necessitated evocative art and design that visually express this through powerful symbols that people can rally around and transform into their own expressions of support and unity. Symbols that people can replicate and remix, and that become a part of their cultural currency.

I wonder how design and art will continue to support his presidency and motivate and unite his constituency?


  1. This look superb. It's gone straight on my Christmas wishlist! His art certainly helped to unite people around symbolism, and it's a fair point that if people can replicate and rework this for banners, avitars, blogs etc, then the message takes on it's own life, but the meaning is never lost. He has a charisma and honesty that this country is crying out for. A true gentlemen for our time. And surely the first politician cool enough to emblazen on clothing? http://is.gd/4iVV9

    I just hope that his honesty in communication doesn't get tarnished by decades of 'processes'. Of that, the art can't help.

  2. Hey Graham - thanks for sharing! Although he looks a bit like a fascist on the t-shirt;) Oddly enough, the NPP may have helped him abroad, but hurt him at home...