What makes an icon?


The Obama poster that outclassed them all, Shepard Fairey’s portrait of the President-elect, which was also used as a Time magazine cover, is a fine example of getting to the point. Simplicity is elegant. We’re instinctively drawn to it.

[Updated on February 10, 2009: Randy Kennedy reports in the New York Times on the copyright infringement lawsuit stemming from the use of an Associated Press photographer’s image as the basis for Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster.]

Tom Christensen, whose blog.rightreading.com on the subject of book publishing is one of my favorite blogs, notes that Paste magazine has given us Obamicon.Me, a Web-based photo editor that can transform your uploaded image file into an Obama-poster-style Obamicon.

Jo sent me a good one to illustrate this post.

If only there were book and blog editing software designed to filter out distracting narration, grammatical errors, mixed metaphors, clichés, implausible dialogue, strange punctuation, and inadvertently repeated words. Would iconic language make us all look good in print? I’m not sure. Does simplicity make some people’s writing attractive?

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