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Spreading The Hope: Street Artist Shepard Fairey

Jan 20, 2009 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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Shepard Fairey's illustration of Barack Obama was one of the most iconic images of the campaign — Obama's face and the word "hope" rendered in red, white, and blue.

Fairey says he made the image to spur voters' belief in Obama as a leader. The image was never officially adopted by the campaign, however, because of legal issues related to the original photograph he used.

The iconic poster differed from Fairey's previous work. The image was unusual, Fairey says, because his political art is usually negative.

"I felt that Barack Obama was an unusual candidate, a special candidate, and that it was worth putting my efforts into making something positive," he told NPR in a Jan. 2009 interview.

Now Fairey is spreading the message of hope again, this time as the official designer of the Obama inauguration poster.

Fairey spawned the "Obey" street art movement which in turn was the inspiration for a line of clothing, and he has designed album covers for several well-known bands, including The Black Eyed Peas and the Smashing Pumpkins. He's the founder of Studio Number One, a Los Angeles-based design company.

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