At the Institute of Contemporary Art, an exhibit of Shepard Fairey's first solo museum show with the Obama "Hope," 2008, over the artist's shoulder.
Photo by David L. Ryan/Boston Globe/Getty

Shepard Fairey: Obama has failed to live up to his ‘Hope’ poster


Few images are more emblematic of President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign than street artist Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster that captured the then-senator from Illinois’s aspirations to restore the country’s faith in politics. Eight years later, Fairey believes Obama has failed to live up to the “Hope” campaign slogan. 

“Obama has had a really tough time, but there have been a lot of things that he’s compromised on that I never would have expected,” the street artist told Esquire in an interview published Thursday. 

“I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he’d support].”

RELATED: Artist behind 2008 Obama ‘Hope’ poster: Elections rife with ‘legalized bribery’

Ironically, Fairey created the poster in 2007 because he was disheartened with former President George W. Bush’s leadership at the time. The stenciled portrait of Obama, in solid red and blue colors with different versions of the poster containing the words “progress,” “hope” or “change,” was inspired by the the well-known John F. Kennedy portrait with his chin titled up looking out at the distance. 

Fairey conceded that the president is a “quality human being” but understands he’s in a “position where your actions are largely dictated by things out of your control.” In the interview, Fairey also expressed frustration with the flood of money in politics and an “uneducated public,” concern for climate change and a need for an overhaul of the “entire [political] system.”

Barack Obama

Shepard Fairey: Obama has failed to live up to his 'Hope' poster