Artists Team Up With eBay To Design Bandanas To Support ‘Get Out The Vote’ Programs In The United States (Pt1)
Leading international artists Shepard Fairey, Jenny Holzer, Luchita Hurtado and more are in partnership with eBay to release an exclusive series of artist-designed art bandanas. The new campaign, titled “Artists get together,” supports key organizations working to increase voter turnout in the upcoming US election.
Limited edition works of art, made to be worn or displayed, are available at eBay.com/ArtistsBandTogether, with 100% of profits supporting programs that educate, register and engage voters: Mijente, Get up and Wake up vote.
I caught up with Shepard Fairey to learn more about how the collaboration unfolded, his thoughts on the election, and how he sees the iconic image of Obama he has created in this tumultuous time.
Afdhel Aziz: Thank you for taking the time today. First of all, in general, what did you do? What is happening?
Shepard Fairey: Well, since the start of the pandemic, I’ve actually been able to do more work because I have less nighttime obligations, no nighttime obligations. When it first struck, I did some things to raise awareness and fundraise around COVID, but over the past few months I’ve been putting most of my energy into things for the election. Whether it’s just the content of my own art and posters or my work with different organizations, there is an intersection in much of my work between trying to stimulate civic engagement and then tackling issues. social issues such as racial injustice, economic inequalities or access to health care.
So all of these things play a role in what I do. I’m just trying to create images that I think will pull people into a conversation in a compelling way. This leads to this Artists Band Together project, which is really about getting people to vote. What concerns me a lot is that when a lot of people are not using democracy, how do you encourage them to participate? I can do this through messages in my art and also how my art could generate funds for organizations that do a lot of grassroots work and outreach.
Aziz: Very cool. Thanks for sharing this. How did this collaboration come about? How did the conversation start?
Fairey: My wife Amanda and I have several friends who are politically engaged and our friends Vicki Kennedy and Jill Goldman sought to do something and there was a group discussion about what made sense. There was an initial discussion about face masks, but we all thought face masks had only one use and maybe we could find something that had more possibilities. A bandana could be used as a face covering because it is functional for COVID, but it could also be used as a flat work of art or simply as a fashion accessory after COVID. So we really liked the versatility of that and the history of the bandana as a rebellious signifier and even dating back to revolutionary times as a statement piece.
Aziz: It’s an incredible array of artists that you’ve managed to bring together. What are your favorites in this group?
Fairey: I really love them all, but I have to say that Barbara Kruger has been a huge inspiration to me and I consider her a hero. I also think that Hank Willis Thomas is doing some of the most exciting work on social issues right now. These are a few of my favorites, but I really think they all went well. I think it’s really remarkable that for Luchita Hurtado this play was one of the last things she did before she passed away last week at the age of 99. So it’s really significant. What I’m happy about is that there is a range of aesthetics, but there is unity in the purpose. The art world can be very clicky at times, but for me this is the ideal situation for artists joining forces for a greater good. I use my work a lot politically and some of the other artists in the band do too, but I think the art audience and the artists out there use a lot of different aesthetics and philosophies, but that’s great that this diverse group has come together to say, “Hey, it’s important to vote.”
Aziz: Yeah, one hundred percent. What was it like working in the middle of a bandana?
Fairey: Immediately, because I wear bandanas when working on murals and want to protect my face from spray paint in my mouth and nose, I thought about the functional side of a bandana where you don’t. really only see a quarter at a time. I saw it as a real opportunity to make an image that could possibly function as a square or a diamond, but also as each of the four possible triangles. Because I’m an artist and a graphic designer, solving the design problem was fun for me.
I chose to make a mandala because it’s quite decorative, but it also gave me a lot of space to weave different images. So there are images about voting, about creating the future you want to see, about nurturing, and green energy, all in this bandana. Any of these things could be the one you’re wearing that’s on display.
For the second part of this interview Click here.