As the party primaries heat up and clear front runners begin to emerge, so too do the gaggles of enthusiastic endorsements for the remaining candidates. This week, Democratic hopeful Barack Obama received a significant nod of approval from a popular cultural figure. Oh, and Teddy Kennedy said he liked him, too.
Shepard Fairey, he of Obey fame, has planted his foot firmly in the Obama camp with the release of a limited edition print of the Senator from Illinois, in an effort to fund a larger street poster campaign. We spoke with Fairey about why he got involved and what the plans are for his latest foray into political artwork.
What made you want to get involved and actively endorse Barack Obama?
A lot of things, really. I've been paying attention to politics since the mid-90s. I think I took the Clinton years for granted and these last 10 years of Bush have been really rough and that's given me more motivation to be involved. I've got a daughter and am about to have another and I'm worried about the future of this country and I'm worried about the wrong people being in charge and what kind of a life that's going to create for people.
In 2000, I did an anti-Bush poster saying, "It's Your future" but I wasn't really that impressed with Gore at the time. I'm more impressed with him now. Then in 2005, I wasn't that impressed with Kerry but I did a pretty aggressive anti-Bush poster campaign. But all that really did was alert the highly motivated, reactionary Republicans to the fact that they might be met with some resistance, which made them that much more intent on getting their boy re-elected. So I think that idea was a divisive tactic rather than a way to unite people behind something really positive, which is how I look at Barack.
I first became interested in him in 2004, after his speech at the Democratic convention and have been impressed with him ever since. I think I'm a pretty good judge of character and my feeling about Barack is he stuck his neck out by being against the war, he always seems to speak his mind whether it's the popular position or not and he just seems like he follows what he believes in, which impresses me. So I decided I'd support him and put up my own money to do so. Some people asked me why I don't wait until he's got the Democratic nomination, but if you want a candidate to win, why not try your best to ensure he actually gets the nomination?
I just thought now was the time for me to stick my neck out and root for someone who I think has the potential to be awesome. Hopefully he won't disappoint me, but when I look at the rest of the field, in my eyes he stands way above any one else. That said, while I'd like people to get behind Barack, I also made a poster in the same color scheme that just says "Vote!" Even the way I worded the announcement on my site, I just pointed out why I support him and then encouraged people to check him out for themselves. I don't want to tell people to vote for Barack because I say so. Even if you like my art and think it's a cool poster, don't vote for Barack unless you think he's the right guy.