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I couldn’t figure out what this portrait was about, so I wrote the artist, Lukas Ketner, to find out.  Here’s what he wrote:

Hello Jill,

The illustration in question is meant to be a humorous depiction of Portland’s (and perhaps much of Oregon’s) democratic population’s preference of Obama over Clinton.  The picture makes the joke that Portland is in love with Obama, hence the harlequin romance novel treatment.  Originally we were going to do a similar cover with Obama making out with Portlandia (a Lady Liberty-style statue that has oft represented our fair city in local cartoons), but we felt that it wouldn’t read as well outside of Portland.

I’m glad it rendered at least a giggle, and thanks for your interest in my work :)


Mystery solved.  And very interesting.

Here’s an example of Harlequin Romance Novel covers. And here’s an image of and Wikipedia entry about Portlandia.

So – now what do folks think?

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:30 pm May 16th, 2008 in Barack Obama, Culture, Media, Politics, Research, WH2008 


9 Responses to “Obama editorial portrait artist Lukas Ketner explains Wilmette Week illustration”

  1. 1 Editorial illustration of Obama as...what exactly? | Writes Like She Talks on May 16th, 2008 9:33 pm

    [...] See here for the artist’s explanation to me of the illustration. function toggleview(element1) { var [...]

  2. 2 Joseph on May 16th, 2008 9:40 pm

    So I was close. Still think it looks more like cheesy 70′s album art.

  3. 3 Anon on May 18th, 2008 9:15 pm

    The picture makes the joke that Portland is in love with Obama

    From The Washington Post (link):

    Record Obama Crowd, the Size of a City

    By Matthew Mosk

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Sen. Barack Obama has seen his share of large crowds over the last 15 months, but his campaign said they have not approached the numbers gathered along the waterfront here right now[, May 18].

  4. 4 Anon on May 18th, 2008 9:27 pm

    And here is a brief video of the Portland rally.

  5. 5 Angie on May 19th, 2008 4:03 pm

    I love it. It’s funny and does poke fun at the hysteria some seem to have over him. The open shirt is hilarious.

  6. 6 Anon on May 20th, 2008 3:56 pm

    For those interested in the iconography of Barack Obama, Let a Thousand Posters Bloom is a nice rundown. Don’t let the fact that the article is in The Weekly Standard scare you; the author plays it fairly straight.

  7. 7 Jill Miller Zimon on May 20th, 2008 4:03 pm

    Very cool article. Hmm – would be interesting to put a side by side comparison of what the same or similar artists did of Hillary compared to Obama…

  8. 8 THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Manning Award nominees: Lukas Ketner on July 19th, 2009 2:03 pm

    [...] point, the Obama-as-romance hero metaphor wasn’t quite as obvious as it is now. and Ketner had to explain: The illustration in question is meant to be a humorous depiction of Portland’s (and perhaps [...]

  9. 9 Family Portrait Artist Kate on March 14th, 2010 10:14 am

    Very cheesy and tongue in cheek. Well executed humour

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