Bill Crook experimented with a number of concepts before settling on the final design for the sign that attorney William Panichi asked him to paint for Panichi’s law office on North Fourth Street.
Panichi wanted something that combined images of Abraham Lincoln, who lived in Springfield before becoming president, and Barack Obama, who’s often compared to Lincoln, was a state senator here, and used the capital city as his presidential campaign’s launch pad. Initially, Crook thought about using bright colors a la Shepard Fairey’s obnoxiously ubiquitous red-white-blue creation. However, “I didn’t want to replicate Fairey. He’s all over the place,” says Crook, a former art instructor whose work has been displayed in the Capitol and in several publications, including Illinois Times.
In the end, Crook decided to keep it simple with portraits of Lincoln and Obama facing the Old State Capitol, where both men delivered historic speeches. Achieving the proper viscosity of the paints proved difficult and Crook painted the faces five times. The final product, Panichi believes, could be incorporated into a new Springfield city seal and says he mentioned the idea to Kevin Davlin, brother and advisor to mayor Tim Davlin. However, according to City Hall spokesman Ernie Slottag, no discussion of modifying the official city seal has taken place.