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What's This Year's Hope Poster? A Crowdsourced Progressive Design Movement

After Shepard Fairey's infamous HOPE poster was plastered across the country, changing the tone of the 2008 election, artists and designers...

After Shepard Fairey's infamous HOPE poster was plastered across the country, changing the tone of the 2008 election, artists and designers across the country were reminded of the impact they can have, and they wanted to be able to use their skills to make change too. When I started Design for Obama in 2008, I wanted to provide resources to creative people to help spread their work and the message of inclusion at the core of the campaign. I wasn't prepared for the wave of people and work from all over the world, surpassing my wildest hopes for quantity and quality. Four years later and we're back at it with a new website, online poster sales, and some ideas on how other organizations and causes can find similar success using the creative, crowdsourced approach.


1) Constraints are crucial: It seems counterintuitive but constraints make it easier to be creative. It's important to have a very specific "ask"—in our case, an 8.5" by 11" poster in support of Obama—to provide direction to contributors and help the entire body of work be more cohesive. You obviously don't want to decide too many things for the artist, but creative limitations such as only using certain colors or messages or images can provide a motivating challenge.


2) Collaborating is more fun than competing: And more ethical too. Contests with one winner is just another word for spec work; a lot of people are working for free with the goal of getting the prize or job. But that's not what Design for Obama is about. We're creating ways for creative people to engage in politics and volunteer their time and skills the same way that lawyers, accountants, and phone-bankers do. We're building a collection of work, not highlight a few "winners." But everyone can win and everyone can help build something larger than themselves.

3) Engaging creative community: Rather than simply getting excited when the creative community gets involved, political and advocacy organizations need to roll up their sleeves and seek out the creative professionals in their communities as well as look for new ways to make their entire community more creative and expressive. If done correctly, it will start to feel a lot like building community where everyone's contributions together begin to have a momentum of their own and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a way to get involved, please consider purchasing a poster from—or contributing to—the growing collection at Design for Obama.

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