Pinecrest artist’s design wins Obama campaign art contest

Phil Fung

Phil Fung

There are no red states or blue states, just the United States. That was one of the most memorable lines in President Barack Obama’s Nov. 6 speech after winning re-election.

That line also is the tag line for a T-shirt design done for the Obama campaign by Pinecrest artist Phil Fung back in June.

“It’s a unifying message, especially after such a partisan fight this election was,” Fung said. “It’s something we should all remember. We are in all this together.”

Fung submitted his winning art design and tag line for the Obama campaign “Runway to Win” art contest in June.

“They had a bunch of designs come in,” Fung said. “I believe only three designs were chosen.”

The winners were chosen via popular vote. The votes were based on the quality of workmanship, creativity and how well the designs captured the spirit of the campaign.

Fung’s winning design was put on shirts that were sold online at the successful Obama Runway to Win fashion store. The program raised more than $40 million for the campaign. The line included clothing and accessories designed by luminaries such as Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu and Vera Wang. The idea was conceived by Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Pictured is the winning design for the Obama art contest by Pinecrest artist Phil Fung.

Pictured is the winning design for the Obama art contest by Pinecrest artist Phil Fung.

This is the second time Fung has won an Obama campaign art contest.

“In 2008, they had a bigger competition,” Fung said. “Manifest Hope. It was an international art competition. The art competition was to illustrate or create an image of Obama.”

There were 1,200 entries from around the world — five were chosen as grand prize winners. His painting was sent to the Democratic National Convention in Denver for display and then it was auctioned off for charity. The art from that competition was featured in the book, The Art for Obama.

Fung’s shop is in the Suniland Plaza, next to Flannigan’s. He grew up in south Miami Dade and spent a lot of time in the Homestead area, part of a vibrant Chinese Jamaican community. Fung moved to Tallahassee for college, getting a degree in fine art from Florida State University. His original intent was to get into computer animation but his senior year at FSU he fell in love with painting.

“I got the bug and I couldn’t let it go,” he said. “I’m very thankful for that.”

He moved to New York for a time and then relocated to New Orleans to create his art.

“A friend was a street artist in New Orleans,” he said. “I planned a two-week trip and I stayed in New Orleans for two years. It’s fantastically rich and culturally diverse.”

His studio was blown away by Katrina, so he followed his girlfriend to Orlando, became a teacher and took advantage of a program that enabled him to get a master’s in art education at the University of Central Florida. When the economic bubble burst in 2008, his teaching job was eliminated so he moved back to Miami to become a fulltime artist once again.

But he hasn’t left teaching behind.

“I teach art classes to kids and to adults,” he said.

Classes are scheduled around the art festival season. He participates in 25-30 art festivals a year, including the St. Stephens show.

“Every weekend I was somewhere else doing my art, Only a couple of years ago, I got to open my studio.”

He often is asked why he opened his studio in Pinecrest instead of a place like Wynwood, which is known for its art community. But he’s happy in Suniland because his studio is close to home.

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