Creative Action Network has its roots in the summer of 2008 during Barack Obama's first Presidential campaign. Shortly after street artist Shepard Fairey's HOPE illustration was plastered on street corners and in bedroom windows across the nation, hundreds of artists simultaneously realized that they too could freely contribute artwork to a campaign that inspired all kinds of creatives with very different backgrounds. But very few of them had the resources to mount a tactile, guerrilla street art campaign like Shepard Fairey.
It was around this time that Design Observer posed the question on a lot of minds: how can we, the design community, all get behind the Obama campaign? I was about to start my senior year at the Rhode Island School of Design and had been designing for the campaign's student outreach wing band had been wondering the same thing. The answer to that question became a simple website (designed and built with a classmate Adam Meyer) allowed anyone to upload their own design and anyone else to download it, for free at high resolution.
In a matter of months the collection of designs grew to several hundred and was showing up all over the campaign and internet. Steven Heller wrote about the project in the NY Times and was interviewed by AIGA on the subject.
One design in particular caught the eye of filmmaker and activist Spike Lee who reached out and expressed his interest in helping publish the collection.
Later that year and with the help of Taschen Books we published a collection of over a hundred designs was published as a visual document of the most inspirational U.S. presidential campaign in living history. The book is available around the world (as well as Amazon).
After the campaign ended, the small community of a few hundred designers as well as a number of causes and brands all had the same question: that was awesome, what's next? It was out of this question that Creative Action Network was born; a network of campaigns that connected the design community with ideas and causes that would benefit from a diverse collection of artwork made by passionate artists and designers.
Our Green New Deal campaign premiered on March 14, 2019 in Washington D.C., at Bold V. Old, a daylong convening where speakers including Stacey Abrams, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris discussed bold ideas for our biggest problems, including the Green New Deal. On March 16 In Oakland, CA, Creative Action Network joined artists and activists at the Green New Deal Create-A-Thon, where youth artists from the Sunrise Movement and others worked on new designs for the collection. Youth activist Rio says that after seeing videos of Greta Thunberg leading student climate strikes in Europe, “me and my sister were empowered to make some sort of difference.” Rio and his sister Maddy recently rose to internet stardom when their student group confronted Senator Feinstein about the Green New Deal a few weeks ago. Maddy says she is now “trying to make my voice be more heard, go to marches, and more creative stuff, definitely!”