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See Shepard Fairey's latest campaign poster

June 23, 2009 |  5:26 pm

Shepard These days, every political movement needs a logo, and who better to supply the hip revolutionary imagery than street artist Shepard Fairey, whose poster of Obama ("Hope") became a cultural phenomenon unto itself -- a Warholian meta-event that combined fashion, hipsterism and a political call to action.

Fairey has been bogged down with legal problems in recent weeks, but he's apparently found time to lend his creativity to another cause. Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi is a human rights activist who has fought for years against the repressive regime of dictator Than Shwe. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist has been under house arrest for several years now, but that hasn't stopped her from campaigning with her political party, the National League for Democracy. In the last election, her party won a majority of seats in the Myanmar parliament but the ruling party has refused to let the winners take their seats.

The new poster of Suu Kyi was created by Fairey in cooperation with the Human Rights Action Center and the U.S. Campaign for Burma. (The two organizations are planning to stage a concert in Los Angeles in late fall to raise awareness for her democracy movement.) The colorful image depicts a smiling Suu Kyi wearing a dove design and features a sunburst emanating from behind her. The top of the poster reads "Freedom to Lead" in large letters, while at the bottom reads "Support Human Rights" and "Democracy in Burma."

While the Obama poster became a ubiquitous symbol -- featured on T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers and of course, the Internet -- the new poster will have a tougher time reaching its audience thanks to the totalitarian practices of the Myanmar government. It's tough to say how Fairey's artwork will get past the censors, though as in other authoritarian regimes, the Internet and wireless communications have proven to be a consistent lifeline of communication with the outside. (Speaking of which, Culture Monster wonders if Fairey is working on a poster for slain Iranian protestor Neda Agha-Soltan.)

Click through for a first look at Fairey's new poster for Aung San Suu Kyi ...

-- David Ng

Top photo: Shepard Fairey. Credit: Associated Press. Bottom image: Courtesy Human Rights Action Center.

Comments () | Archives (12)

I suppose he stole the photograph he based this one on too rather than getting permission. Theft is theft.

so which photographer did he not credit this time???

As if anyone would have cared about a pose by Obama w/out Fairey's changes to the photo. The photo was just a snapshot of Barack, it wasn't until Fairey made his changes that it became an icon. Any photos of Suu Kyi that look like this poster? Didn't think so...

I'm all for genuine activism, but here's where SF's games are, to me, coming back to bite him. If his appropriation of propaganda imagery is meant to be ironic (a sort of joke on companies like Nike that bought that appropriation, and on consumers like us who don't question it, for instance) - which is the only way to read his arguments in favor of his theft of photography as art - then how do we know he's not being ironic with this poster?

You can't have it both ways.

My personal issue with Shepard Fairy has nothing to do with the controversy surrounding his appropriation of existing images. It has to do with the fact that his style and technique hasn't changed or really progressed in the past 10 years or so I've been seeing his work. I don't completely blame him. His repetitive high-con images with starbursts and other cliche graphic propaganda imagery have done well for his recognition as an artist and for his wallet. And he should embrace his own style as he creates new work, I'd just like to see something new from him. He will probably be remembered as one of the most recognized designers of the past decade and the hope image has become historic in it's own way, but I really question his scope as an artist when everything basically comes back to Andre the Giant. The time for change is now Shepard.

What an incredible idea! What is next?! Please do something unexpected like fly to Tehran and plaster posters of Neda Soltani !


That's true, the photograph of obama is not what is a cultural icon, rather it is fairys artwork that had become famous. AS A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, I support fairy 100% and would be thrilled to have a photo inspire him.

"Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal"---Pablo Picasso

I respect any guy that can turn what he loves into a living, especially in a creative field. But from a design and art perspective I do not get why people are into his work. It's vector graphics traced over photos with re-appropriated and cliche' design elements thrown in. It's slightly improved when I saw some of his stuff 4-5 years ago, and that's not saying much because it was absolutely awful then.

I get a lot of people like his work because they agree with his politics(which is probably his biggest selling point), but Shepard is not by any stretch of the imagination a great artist or designer, but an amazing marketer with a little bit of luck thrown in. But with all that being said, more power to him for his success.

Better than Obama poster. It should become our symbol to keep fighting for freedom.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Someone needs to look up the word irony.
(I know, I know- it’s hard to understand. Just try your best.)

I am really glad I found this blog. Keep up the good writtings. Thanks


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