Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster that became the unofficial symbol of Barack Obama's 2008 election campaign, has said that he is disappointed with the Obama presidency.
In an interview with Esquire magazine posted Thursday, Fairey said that Obama was “not even close” to living up to the ideals expressed in the “Hope” poster.
“There have been a lot of things that [Obama has] compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he'd support],” Fairey said.
The artist did say, however, that he thought Obama was a “quality human being,” but that the president was in a position where his actions were largely dictated by things outside his control.
In the interview, Fairey also railed against the influence of money in politics, saying “the entire system needs an overhaul and taking money out of politics would be a really good first step.”
Fairey's iconic image of a red, white and blue Obama was never officially endorsed by the then-candidate's campaign, as it was based on an Associated Press photograph for which the artist did not have the rights. However, the poster was viewed as an extremely effective tool for communicating Obama's message, with New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl dubbing it "the most efficacious American political illustration since 'Uncle Sam Wants You'."
In a 2008 thank you note to Fairey, Obama said that the artist's images “have a profound effect on people,” adding that he was “privileged to be part of your artwork.”
Fairey subsequently sued the Associated Press over the poster, seeking a declamatory judgment from the court that his use of the image constituted fair use. He pleaded guilty to contempt of court for manufacturing evidence, and settled the case.