The Obama “Hope” Poster is an iconic image of the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign. Made by graphic designer Shepard Fairey, it was produced in one day and originally distributed and sold as a wall poster. As the Obama campaign grew, the poster became widely accessible via the Internet and became a defining symbol of Obama’s campaign. The original can now be found in the Smithsonian National Portrait gallery, however it can be widely found on the Internet, having found its way into popular culture. In this way, the Obama hope poster has been used as an advertisement and political propaganda piece for the Obama presidential campaign.
At first glance, the ‘Hope’ poster is a depiction of a stylized Barack Obama, balanced over the word Hope. The letters use a strong San Serif Font and frame the piece in a rectangular fashion. This frame is led with a beige edge that contains a strong contrast to the inner shapes of the work. The shapes within the center of the piece are highly polarized and contain many alternating colored vectors that are skewed and lean towards the left. The prominent colors of the vectors are a bold red, dark blue, lighter pale blue, and the pale beige. While most of the colors are solid, certain vectors of pale light blue contain a thin lined texture. The overall shape that is structured is very bold in its geometric form, and contains a high level of color contrast that gives a sense of depth.
Fairey’s ‘HOPE’ poster’s use of bold simplification in form and structure aid in is great deal of effectiveness. Sporting only four colors and the strong typeface of Gotham, Fairy creates a simple but strong concept that is easy to view. The text and shape work together to link the face of Obama to the idea of hope. It shows a great deal of effectiveness in its positive characterization of Barack Obama, affirmed by Obamas use of it during the campaign. Its form delivers a strong sense of Ethos, in that it appeals to a sense of comfort and good from Obamas face. Its use of the word ‘Hope’ gives a sense of comfort, being bold san serif, creating the feeling of confidence and power. For a man aiming to become the figurehead of the United States, this poster was very effective at persuading voters that Obama was the man to trust, as well as being strong willed enough to represent them. The blue colors are strong yet de-saturated, giving an aura of wisdom and trust. The Obama that is represented in the work is one of duty and grace, and the message of Hope became a key characteristic in Obama’s presidential campaign. On the other hand, the bold red color represents the strength in Obamas character. For a man aiming to become the figurehead of the United States, both colors are effective at persuading voters that Obama was the man to trust, as well as being strong willed enough to represent them. Yet above all, the colors are of the flag of the United States, a further part of Obama’s visual political image. Yet in the end, the piece acts as a work of propaganda, similar to that done in Germany and Russia (as well as many nations) during the period of WWII. They are art pieces that serve a nationalistic approach and build up a trust of potential leaders.