During my senior year at RISD I was volunteering with the Obama campaign when Shepard Fairey’s famous HOPE poster debuted. After the question was posed on a design blog, “how can the design community help the Obama campaign?” I launched a Threadless-inspired website soliciting posters for the campaign, designed by any and everyone. After a few short months a collection of several hundred designs from artists around the world had been uploaded to the website, free for any supporter to download and print in tiled, letter-sized squares.
As cool as growing a beautiful collection of posters was, it was even more exciting to start to see the posters leave the internet and make their way into the real world at rallies and on street corners and even on public advertising. There was a lot of creative energy and optimism that surrounded the campaign and it felt like Design for Obama had become a community gathering spot for those interested in creating and spreading grassroots art.
One afternoon that fall during class, I received an email and then a phone call from activist and filmmaker Spike Lee who had originally been sent one of our posters, a re-done version of his “Do the Right Thing” poster with Obama’s face over his. He proceeded to find and fall in love with the entire collection believing it to be a manifestation of Barack Obama’s campaign values. With his help, I proceeded to edit, design and publish an anthology of the collection featuring the work of over 200 artists (many of whom were being published for the first time). Spike helped me edit the collection of designs and find and secure art house publisher Taschen Books. Acclaimed designer and author Steven Heller, who had written about our project in the New York Times, contributed an essay alongside the introduction that I wrote.
“Design for Obama. Posters for Change: A Grassroots Anthology” launched in November of 2009 at the Taschen Book store in New York where Steven Heller, Spike Lee and myself signed copies and celebrated the debut.