Co.Design

Crazy Accurate 8-Bit Portraits Of GOP's Presidential Candidates

Illustrator Andy Rash has distilled presidential hopefuls into a few colored squares. Can you guess who they are?

How many pixels does it take to make a Sarah Palin? For illustrator Andy Rash, only a few dozen. For the last few years, Rash has been creating "iotacons," a person's (or fictional character's) likeness condensed into a kind of 8-bit portrait. The results, a caricature by way of Nintendo, are both startlingly accurate and highly entertaining.


Can you guess these 2012 presidential candidates? Answers in small type at the bottom of the page.

Rash's iotacon journey began by illustrating characters from films like Star Wars, The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, and Back to the Future. Distilling, say, C-3PO into a handful of squares wasn't terribly hard, so he started looking for figures that were a bit more difficult. "Gradually, the heads started getting bigger and more important, so to give myself a challenge, I chose a group of people who should be pretty recognizable, but all wear dark suits," he tells Co.Design. He illustrated all 44 presidents.

Since then, Rash's political endeavors have included the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court, and Obama's cabinet. Rash says he's toyed with the idea of doing all 50 governors and the House of Representatives, although those may be beyond his expertise. "There are just so darn many of them, and they switch out so often, I'm not sure whether I'm up to it!"

Most recently, Rash completed the roster of 2012 presidential candidates, which we've presented here as a kind of pixelated political quiz. Were there any particular difficulties in illustrating this cast of characters? "Pretty people are harder than less-pretty people, and women are harder than men," he says. "These blocks are not good at describing delicate features. Having said that, to single out who was easy and who was hard would be a bit rude."

Can you guess these groups of 2012 presidential candidates? Disclaimer: Some aren't officially in the race anymore, or perhaps they have not yet declared, but they were too good not to include. Answers in small type below.

First panel: Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, John Bolton
Second panel: Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, John Huntsman, Rick Santorum
Third panel: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich

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4 Comments

  • Tina Chi

    I think this is an excellent subject for an article in this publication--I just think it needs more exploration into visual psychology, human visual reduction tendencies, human ability to recognize personalities with so little detail. This has so many implications--whether it be in police line-ups or commercial advertising. The fact that many times, people need so little visual details to recognize figures is truly fascinating. This is what the article needs to delve into.