At a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art Gala; Shepard Fairey, the artist, activist, and founder of OBEY, who created Obama’s infamous ‘HOPE’ campaign poster in 2008, has told the Associated Press the president hasn’t done as much as Fairey believes he could have. The poster has been one of the most iconic images of this millennia, The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster “the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You'”, but Fairey feels his poster embodies a lot of hopes that were never realized.
He said “I worked really hard for [Obama] so I had high hopes – pun intended. I think he ended up probably being very frustrated with the things he encountered. I think history will be fairly kind of his presidency but I want things to move further in the direction that he promised as a campaigner.”
“He’s been more outspoken in the last 18 months. I think he’s going out having done some good things and said some good things. But there were about six years there where I think he could have done more.”
He continued, “Even if [Obama] was met with gridlock in government, in Congress, if he had been as outspoken as he was as a campaigner, I would give him a pass on not being able to push through some of the progressive things I hoped he would. But he was quiet on a lot of things. That to me was unfortunate.”
During the campaign Fairey also distributed 300,000 stickers and 500,000 posters, and funded his own grassroots campaign through poster and fine art sales. “I just put all that money back into making more stuff, so I didn’t keep any of the Obama money”, Fairey said back in December 2009.
In February 2008, Fairey received a letter of thanks from Obama for his powerful contribution to the campaign. The letter stated:
“I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can change the status-quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign. I am privileged to be a part of your artwork and proud to have your support. I wish you continued success and creativity.” – Barack Obama, February 22.