“…I want a man like Putin
One like Putin, full of strength
One like Putin, who won't be a drunk
One like Putin, who wouldn't hurt me
One like Putin, who won't run away!”
— Lyrics from a popular Russian pop song, “One Like Putin,” from 2010.
Vladimir Putin has long been regarded as a divine hero in Russia. Propagandist imagery such as him riding shirtless on horseback, shooting a tiger with a tranquilizing dart to save a group of journalists, racing in an F1 car on a track, or defeating an opponent in martial arts, help cultivate an image of Putin as a strong, masculine savior—the only one who could lead Russia against the West. These and many more staged acts of supposed strength and bravery have turned him into a sex symbol in the country for women and a man’s man for men.
Evoking the biblical story of the Golden Calf, this poster calls out the worship of Vladimir Putin as a false idol or god. He is not the righteous leader many Russians believe him to be. Instead, he is a vengeful, scheming autocrat who assassinates those he perceives have wronged him or Mother Russia. And he wages wars with sovereign nations under the guise of anti-Naziism.
This cultish infatuation with Putin’s strongman qualities has extended beyond Russia’s borders to inspire the acceptance and admiration of other autocratic leaders, including Viktor Orban of Hungary, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, and Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel. But most chilling was the rise of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
The veneration of men as gods is incredibly dangerous to liberal democracies.
The Putin 3D model was created in collaboration with Roberto Vescovi. The final scene was composed in Cinema 4D and rendered using Redshift. The poster was assembled in Photoshop.
Oliver, John. “Putin.” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, February 19, 2017.
Rachman, Gideon. “The international cult of Vladimir Putin.” Financial Times, January 31, 2022.
Last month I reached out to fellow graphic designer Kateryna Korolevtseva who is based in Ukraine. I was searching for a local printer who would print this anti-Putin poster for me in the country. She recommended 24print in Kyiv.
I worked with the wonderful people at 24print and they printed 30 copies of my poster and sent me some photos…