fb-pixel Skip to main content

Obama ‘Hope’ artist returns with ‘We the people’ posters

Artist Shepard Fairey with his portrait of former President Barack Obama.David L. Ryan/Globe staff/file

In 2008, artist Shepard Fairey turned the face of a then-senator from Illinois into a symbol of “hope.”

Nearly a decade later, artist Shepard Fairey has returned to politics — but instead of using the image of the country’s newly inaugurated 45th president, he’s chosen images of three women to represent “We the people,” including a woman wearing a hijab patterned with American flag stars and stripes.

Fairey, a Los Angeles-based artist, won worldwide fame for creating a red, white, and blue portrait of former President Barack Obama, with the single word “hope” written beneath it, during the 2008 election.

Using a similiar ink block print style, Fairey’s three new portraits have different slogans, each beginning with the phrase “We the people,” calling for Americans to reject fear, protect each other, and to “defend dignity.”


shepard fairey/the amplifier foundation

Shepard’s work was released this week copies were freely available for download from the Amplifier Foundation,

which said on its website that the poster campaign is an effort to “ignite a national dialogue about American identity and values” through art. The group also encouraged anyone who downloaded a poster to email President Donald Trump and tell him “what ‘We the people’ means to you.”

The project raised more than $1.3 million on Kickstarter and included additional posters by artists Ernesto Yerena and Jessica Sabogal.

shepard fairey/the amplifier foundation

On his Twitter page, Fairey is encouraging people to carry the posters in Saturday’s Women’s March, a series of about 300 related demonstrations organized across the US, including in Washington, Los Angeles, and Boston. One of posters appeared as a full-page ad in the Washington Post on Friday.

In an email to the Post, Fairey said the new campaign appeals to “human dignity and fairness,” but unlike the Obama poster, the subjects “are any and all of us.”


shepard fairey/the amplifier foundation

Fairey’s Obama portrait was reused in other work, including a poster for Obama’s first inauguration.

It was also the subject of a lawsuit from the Associated Press, which said Fairey reused one of its photos of Obama without permission — the case was later settled.

In 2009, when Fairey was in Boston for a show of his work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, he was arrested on two outstanding warrants, where were reportedly related to charges of vandalism.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.