The artist Shepard Fairey has again made his mark in a US Presidential election by unveiling a cover image on the latest issue of Time magazine which, he says, throws the spotlight on “police brutality and racial discrimination, voter suppression, and intense political division” on the eve of the US Presidential election (3 November). The work, showing a woman using a bandana as a face covering, is made in Fairey’s trademark graphic style, recalling his 2008 poster Hope featuring the then presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Fairey also takes a swipe at anti-mask and anti-vaccine campaigners in the age of Covid-19, writing on Instagram: “In this illustration, the normally clear-cut rebel symbol of a bandana covering a face takes on a different meaning during Covid, becoming an emblem of safety, respect for one's fellow citizens, and a sign that the wearer believes in science.”
The image on the bandana, including the ballot box speaker, comes from a series Fairey created called Our Hands - Our Future (2020). “Even though the subject in the portrait knows there are additional challenges to democracy during a pandemic, she is determined to use her voice and power by voting,” the artist adds.
In addition, Fairey calls for electoral reform, saying: “The future is not shaped by voting alone, but voting is crucial to make a healthy, functional democracy. In my opinion, those who claim to believe in democracy and ask for the honour to represent the people should be looking for ways to make voting easier, not more difficult. I'd like to see the implementation of an election holiday [on the day of the ballot] as well as secure electronic voting options. Until then, mail in your ballot or mask-up and head to the polls… the future of our democracy is in your hands!”
For the first time in its 100-year history, the Time masthead was removed by Fairey for his design, his third cover for the current affairs magazine. Edward Felsenthal, the editor-in-chief of Time, writes in a statement online: “To mark this historic moment, arguably as consequential a decision as any of us has ever made at the ballot box, we have for the first time in our nearly 100-year history replaced our logo on the cover of our US edition with the imperative for all of us to exercise the right to vote.”
Earlier this year, Fairey designed an anti-Trump billboard for the Artists United for Change group which installed nine posters and hundreds of posters in five battleground states of Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania urging people to #VoteThemOut [the current administration] in November.