The artist behind Kamala Harris' campaign poster is a rising political art star

When Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) presidential campaign wanted an official poster, they turned to artist Tracie Ching.

Ching creates alternative movie posters and has worked with clients including 20th Century Fox, Google, Marvel Studios, Metallica, and Sony Pictures. She has increasingly become known for her political work.

Her “Poster For The People,” released June 18, shows Harris in her campaign color scheme of purple, yellow, and red. It’s on sale in the Harris campaign store for $29.99.

“One of her main taglines for this campaign is the happy warrior, so it was important that we create that feel about the candidate,” Ching told Yello in an interview.

She spent about four days on Harris’ face and jacket, and just a few hours on her hair and the background.

“It snapped together very quick, which is something that happens when there’s a good amount of planning and a great subject, and she was certainly a great subject,” she said.

The piece was a commission, so Ching said her job was to translate the client’s needs rather than factor in her own personal ideas. Still, she said Harris is one of her favorite candidates in the race.

“I say yes to a job because I want to be involved, and so obviously there are a few candidates I really like on the Democratic side of this race, and Kamala Harris is definitely one of them,” she said.

Ching was on the Harris campaign’s radar after her work in 2018. She created several posters for midterm candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke, and contributed a poster to Power to the Polls, a midterm voting campaign.

In August 2018, she released a poster commissioned by the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, or NARAL, to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. The “Kava Nope” poster is now in the Library of Congress.

Tracie Ching’s 2018 posters for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “Kava Nope,” and Power to the Polls.

“That was a really small thing that I cranked out in about two hours and sent it off, not really expecting anything to happen with it and that just kind of exploded in a way that neither I nor NARAL really expected,” she said, adding she hadn’t really thought about using her work as a kind of activism until before this year.

Ching’s style is inspired by the Victorian and Civil War eras.

“Even when I was in high school, I loved collecting antiques, specifically ephemera,” she said, including items like certificates, post cards, and stamps. “Over time I just sort of unconsciously gravitated towards that kind of style and I had not meant to. In hindsight it makes sense.”

Because her work often resembles currency, Ching has been commissioned to illustrate heads of state and CEOs. In 2016 she illustrated Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for Politico’s convention issues.

Politico’s 2016 convention issues.

She said working on the Harris poster was especially meaningful for her.

“We don’t know how this race will turn out, but it’s wonderful to be apart of that and meaningful being a woman of mixed race myself and having a daughter and sons and wanting the world to be more inclusive and open and representative,” she said.

As for Harris’ debate performance, it went very much as Ching thought it would.

“Her performance was exactly what I was expecting,” she said. “Her experience up until this point as a prosecutor, it was going to lend to her being a strong presence on the debate stage.”