Though dogged by continuing copyright controversy, Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster was named as the Brit Insurance Design of the Year last night.
The design was chosen from the seven category winners by a panel of judges including Alan Yentob, Paola Antonelli, Karen Blincoe, Peter Cook, Sarah Mower and Yves Béhar. The panel commented, “If ever there were to be a ‘The Poster of the Year’, the Obama Poster would be it. The US election was a watershed in contemporary history and this poster demonstrates the power of communicating ideas and aspirations from grass-root level. Just as the presidential candidate’s campaign speeches recaptured the lost art of oratory, so this poster breathed new life into a form that had lost its purpose. Fairey’s poster came not from a marketing campaign, but as a self-initiated fund raising campaign. The poster did its job by becoming a collector’s item. More than that it’s encapsulated the mood of its time.”
Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum said: “The Obama poster is a reminder of how extensively the design world impacts our everyday life. The poster has become an international emblem of recent history.”
However, the poster is currently the subject of a legal dispute between Fairey and Associated Press. AP approached Fairey after it was alerted to the fact that Fairey’s poster used an image by photographer Mannie Garcia as source material. On February 9, Fairey launched a pre-emptive lawsuit claiming ‘fair use’. The AP has now issued a counterclaim accusing Fairey of copyright infringement.