Obama Poster Contest Angers Design Community: It’s ‘The Opposite Of Jobs’
President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign recently launched a poster contest, inviting artists from across the country to submit designs in support of the president’s $447 billion jobs plan and re-election. Although three winners will be given framed copies of their artworks signed by the president, artists who apply will not be paid for their labor, and they must relinquish the rights to their own work upon submission, according to the contest website.
Many professional designers and illustrators — a group not exactly known for bashing liberals and casting Republican votes — say they find the contest detrimental to their industry. They argue that such competitions, entered by artists “on speculation” in hopes of gaining exposure, are helping to depress wages in an already tough job market, even when the artists know upfront what they’re getting into. …
Of course, this president surely understands, perhaps better than most, the power of an arresting political poster. The “HOPE” design created by artist Shepard Fairey — and emblazoned on countless posters and other objects during the 2008 campaign — already ranks among the most iconic images in American political history, having played an obvious yet incalculable role in Obama winning the White House. Obama’s 2012 campaign is clearly hoping to harness a bit of that poster magic again.
In an email, Fairey told HuffPost that he’s disappointed when he considers the poster contest, although not for the same reasons as the anti-spec crowd. He believes that artists should distinguish between lending their art to political causes, as in the poster contest, and participating in commercial spec work.
Fairey said he didn’t ask to be compensated for the HOPE design because, “In my mind, Obama’s election and the progress that hypothetically would yield was the reward.” That reward, he implies, hasn’t arrived yet. …
“Now that we are in a terrible economy,” he added, “maybe Obama should do what FDR did with the WPA program and put artists and designers to work, rather than just asking for help with his campaign art.”
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