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JANUARY 23, 2009   

Campaign graphics

After yesterday's discussion about Shepard Fairey, designer (but not photographer) of the iconic Obama poster that you've seen a zillion times, here's a little more about campaign graphics.

Now you need to understand that graphic design geeks like me just love this sort of stuff. After years and years when no one could explain to his/her mother what a graphic designer did, all of a sudden the general public is talking about design. We like that. And among ourselves we talk about it a lot.

Back in February '08 Salon magazine ran an article comparing the logos of the candidates. Author Karrie Jacobs, a design critic, didn't mince words:

Historically, the graphics of presidential campaigns have often been poorly designed, stale and uninteresting. In a culture where most corporations understand that visual zing is their most powerful weapon, political graphics look like the Christmas ornaments that are stored in a box in the basement, dusted off and reused, year after year after year.

Hilary Clinton logoShe calls Hilary Clinton's flag-like logo "the same tried-and-true approach."

John Edwards logoEdwards gets "marginally zippier..."

McCain logoShe gives a half-hearted thumbs up to McCain's: "... it does make a strong point..."

Obama logoBut Ms. Jacobs—and most of the design community—talk about the Obama logo in glowing terms: "literally and figuratively sunny...smooth...speaks eloquently of change."

And it's not just the logo. The Obama website is considered by most designers to be outstanding in terms of design, content and functionality. The article Obama Defeats McCain calls Obama's site"freaking gorgeous." The site has evolved over time, eventually becoming www.change.gov after the election, and now lives on as www.whitehouse.gov.

Logo cartoonDon't miss this clever comparison of campaign logos, done cartoon-style by Ward Sutton.

For the inside scoop on the Obama logo, read Steven Heller's interview with its designer, Sol Sender.

Or hear/see Sender himself discuss it (video).


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