Firas Alkhateeb, a 20-year-old Palestinian-American college student from Chicago, said he created the image last winter break when he was bored and after messing around on Photoshop, The Los Angeles Times reported. After using an online tutorial to "Jokerize" a portrait of Obama from the Oct. 23 cover of Time Magazine, Alkhateeb uploaded his work to image-sharing site Flickr, where it amassed 20,000 views, he told the paper.
From there, Alkhateeb said someone else downloaded his work and made a poster with the word "socialist" written below the president's picture as a caption. The poster began appearing on the streets of Los Angeles and Chicago earlier this year. It has been denounced by some critics as racist or the work of conservative activists.
Alkhateeb, who did not vote in the last presidential election, said he never meant to make a political statement. He told the Times he thought President Obama was doing a good job with foreign policy but not on domestic issues. As for the "socialist" tag, well that's just "immature," Alkhateeb said.