The New York Times recently asked several leading designers to produce campaign posters for candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president. It was an exercise in fun, creativity and ideology.

The results are clever.

For example, designer James Victore came up with, “I love JFK more than ever.” The “JFK” actually refers to candidate John F. Kerry, though it of course pays homage to John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

”The connection between Kerry and J.F.K. was too hard not to play on,” Victore told the Times. “There are the initials and the fact that Kerry’s from Massachusetts and has a whole connection to the Kennedy clan. So the idea is to go back to J.F.K., to something that, at least on its face, seemed purer and more romantic than political life today.”

Howard Dean’s poster was designed by Michael Beirut, who has created graphics for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dean’s poster is dominated by the words, “It’s time for the truth!” in Dean’s own handwriting.

“Why not have the message be in the governor’s own handwriting?” Beirut said. “We took a big risk in this case in that Howard Dean is also a doctor, and anyone who has ever been to a pharmacy knows what kind of writing a doctor has. But the governor really came through for us.”

Bonnie Siegler and Emily Oberman, who have designed for both “Saturday Night Live” and HBO, created Joe Lieberman’s campaign poster. Their entry actually presents two posters, each casting Lieberman in an “old shadow silhouette.” One says, “Joe Lieberman: The Conservative Moderate,” and the other says, “Joe Lieberman: The Moderate Conservative.”

Siegler and Oberman actually played off a famous Bob Dylan poster designed by Milton Glaser, renowned graphic artist who created the “I love NY” logo (which Victore incorporated in his “I love JFK” poster for Kerry).

Glaser himself co-created the poster for Al Sharpton with Walter Bernard. Sharpton’s poster is among the simplest, saying only, “Al: No Strings.” Below that is a button saying “Sharp, Sharper, Sharpton.”

The simplest design belongs to Julia Hasting, who put a keyboard shift key on a yellow background to urge people to “Vote Clark,” as the poster for Wesley Clark says at bottom.

“As an object, the key is associated with progress and creativity, as well as with technology and education,” Hasting, art director for Phaidon Press, told the Times. “In its three-dimensionality, it invites the viewer to interact with it, to push for change.”

Designers also created posters for the other Democratic candidates: John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Dick Gephardt.

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.

Click here to start the New York Times‘ poster slide show.

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