Eight years ago, a poster designed by Shepard Fairey became the iconic image of the 2008 presidential campaign. The “HOPE” poster, featuring an image of Barack Obama, began with a print run of just 350, and spread after it was distributed on the street, at rallies and online. Now, the graphic artist, muralist, illustrator and activist is back with another street art campaign called “We the People” for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. But this time, the new president’s face won’t be on it.
Shepard has created three portraits for the campaign; two other artists, Colombian American muralist Jessica Sabogal and and Chicano graphic artist Ernesto Yerena, have each made one more. Together, they hope the faces of “We the People” — standing in for traditionally marginalized groups or those specifically targeted during Trump’s presidential campaign — will flood Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.
Fairey is collaborating with the Amplifier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to amplify grassroots movements and which commissioned the project. After learning that large-sized signs were prohibited at Inauguration, Amplifier came up with a hack to distribute the posters. Their plan: to buy full-page ads in the Washington Post on Jan. 20 that feature the “We the People” images, which can be torn out and carried as placards, or hung and posted around town. The posters will also be distributed at metro stops, from moving vans and other drop spots on Inauguration Day, as well as posted online for free download. A Kickstarter campaign for “We the People” has raised more than $148,000 since it was launched Tuesday night.
Fairey talked with PBS NewsHour by phone Wednesday about the “We the People” campaign. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.