ATLANTA – For some, helping to get out the vote during Georgia's U.S. Senate runoffs meant writing checks for campaigns. Others signed up to canvass neighborhoods or make calls for campaign phone banks. Brandon Litman took a different approach by making thousands of pieces of art to connect the Democratic candidates with voters.
The 39-year-old artist from Brooklyn, New York, packed up his spray paint and traveled to Atlanta in early December amid a critical election overtime period in Georgia. Control of the U.S. Senate was at stake in what Litman called “the most important runoff elections of our lifetimes.”
His plan: to create and give away art that would inspire voters to turn out for Democratic Senate contenders Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
For weeks leading up to the Jan. 5 election, Litman churned out handmade posters featuring likenesses of Ossoff and Warnock. Boosted by a coalition of Black and younger voters, the challengers went on to defeat Georgia’s two Republican senators and hand the Senate majority to Democrats as President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Georgia certified the results Tuesday.
After arriving in Atlanta last month, Litman started showing up at Ossoff and Warnock campaign rallies, painting custom yard signs for supporters. He would sometimes set up shop under an overpass in downtown Atlanta, where passersby would stop and wait in line for a free poster. Litman soon connected with the Ossoff campaign, which let him tag along to events in other Georgia cities.
Litman, known on social media as @voteruthless, would chat with prospective voters and let them choose their favorite colors for the customized portraits. They would watch him work through clouds of spray paint, and within a few minutes the posters would be done.
Ellen Foster, Ossoff’s campaign manager, credited Litman with bringing “a lot of excitement to the campaign trail.” She called his efforts “an organic and fresh way to engage voters while also creating buzz for this movement.”
Litman had previously done artwork featuring 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. But he said none of them were as popular as his work centered on the Georgia Senate races. By the time the campaigns ended, he figured he had produced about 3,500 posters.
“I’ve refined this get-out-the-vote model of co-creating politically themed art over the past few years,” Litman said. “It is so powerful in attracting people, young and old and all backgrounds.”