Achtung Baby! (Arnold Schwarzenegger), September 2003
Cover for Robbie Conal's collection of poster art, Artburn (Akashic Books 2003)
"Guerrilla" poster artist Robbie Conal's work is familiar to many in the Los Angeles area — his mocking portraits, faces etched with grotesque lines to the point of absurdity, are hard to ignore. Conal's favorite targets are right-wing politicians, and he probably hasn't had this much fun since the Reagan administration.
On an evening a few days before the recall election that would make the actor governor, Conal and nearly 150 of his co-conspirators in guerilla art plastered the streets of Los Angeles with posters bearing a highly unflattering image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the bottom of the poster was a quote from documentary film Pumping Iron, where the young bodybuilder admitted he dreamed of powerful men, including dictators.
But Republicans aren't the only people who get the Conal treatment — he has mocked Hillary Clinton and other Democratic bigshots, foreign leaders and pretty much anyone else who rankles his decidedly liberal political leanings. Hypocrites are his favorite victims.
Conal says he grew up as an "art brat" in New York City, got "psychedelicized" in San Francisco and "professionalized" at Stanford University. In the 1980s he rejected the art gallery circuit, made posters of his political paintings and begain gluing them all over major cities — "building up a volunteer guerrilla postering army as I went." He calls the message of his posters "infotainment."