More Americans than ever are voting by mail this year. Millions more are voting early compared to the last national election. All of them deserve their “I Voted” sticker. So, in collaboration with the nonpartisan movement I am a voter., New York Magazine brought together 48 artists from a diverse array of backgrounds and artistic influence to design stickers for a series of four covers for its October 26 issue — with contributions from Shepard Fairey, KAWS, Barbara Kruger, David Hammons, Laurie Simmons, Amy Sherald, Baron Von Fancy, Marilyn Minter, Lorna Simpson, Tawny Chatmon, Rico Gatson, Zipeng Zhu, Adam Pendleton, Adam J. Kurtz, Zaria Forman, and many more. Each magazine cover will feature images of 12 sticker designs with a corresponding peelable sticker sheet on the inside.
In addition to the New York Magazine covers, 500,000 stickers will be distributed for free at retail locations including Crate and Barrel and CB2, who, along with Warby Parker and EHE Health, are supporting the project’s printing costs. The sticker sheets will also be distributed by book stores and museums across the country, and at nonprofit organizations including the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, as well as official polling sites such as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
New York Magazine has partnered with artists frequently over the years, both in producing iconic covers such as Barbara Kruger’s Eliot Spitzer “Brain,” Hassan Hajjaj’s Cardi B, Hank Willis Thomas’s Obama, and Carl D’Alvia’s ground beef cow, and portfolios from Kehinde Wiley, Will Cotton, Deborah Roberts, and Laurie Simmons, among others. New York has also collaborated with artists on public art projects, most recently for its 50th anniversary, when Fab 5 Freddy, Kerry James Marshall, Yoko Ono, Judy Chicago, George Condo, and more created their own New York Magazine covers, which were printed on walls and billboards across the city.
The “I Voted” stickers reflect a wide range of perspectives and mediums, from photography to line drawings to bold, graphic text. New York asked several of the artists who participated in the project to share their thinking on the project:
Amy Sherald: In my lifetime I’ve experienced my share of prejudice and racism. My mother named me Amy with the hope that I would avoid the inescapable and unavoidable fact of race in this country. Time and time again I’ve heard people reference our forefathers in speeches while intentionally omitting acknowledgement of the bodies that were forced into labor in the making of this great country. The pain this causes is like that of a loved one who has never acknowledged their abusive behavior in a relationship, and yet the recipient of that abuse is expected to heal and move on. Growing up in the South, I viewed the American flag as belonging to a people whose patriotism was solely reserved for whites. This idea of Americanness left me ambivalent about where I stood. The Obama Presidency encouraged and inspired me to reconsider that notion. As I reflect on the many generations that came before me, I would be derelict if I did not take ownership of the one thing that they died for. I want to acknowledge their undeniable and indispensable presence in our history and in the making of this great country. This painting is about that reclamation. My American flag represents a “whole” country. A flag that conjures hope, empathy, resilience, unity, freedom, and justice. It does not disregard our past sins but stands at attention to America’s original sin and in doing so, forges a path forward to a more perfect union.
Christine Sun Kim: In American Sign Language (ASL), we sign “finish” as a way to conjugate the past tense. When you sign “eat finish,” that means “ate” in English, “write finish” means “wrote,” and so on. For the sticker design, I used “vote finish” as my version of the English “I voted” stickers. By connecting the words together, the sticker also visually resembles how you would sign “vote” in ASL.
Derrick Adams: I wanted to take the opportunity to mark this pivotal moment in history to highlight American Civil Rights activist, Bayard Rustin (1912–1987). Rustin fought tirelessly for equality throughout his life and was the main organizer for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Montgomery Bus Boycotts and the March on Washington. I’m calling for us to emulate his energy to continue the fight for justice and equality.
Hank Willis Thomas: Voting this year can feel extremely daunting for so many who are trying their best to be civically engaged but may feel apathetic or unmotivated, but in the Wide Awakes we understand the importance of collective CIVIC JOY in which we can bring celebration and even fun into voting, talking about voting, and encouraging others to vote. We’re in a moment in which people need to awaken to their own power and potential so we can alter the course of this country, and by voting we are activating that, and going into November 3 and beyond together with our eyes open.
Hiba Schahbaz: I painted this memorial portrait of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a Black trans woman, after her murder in June 2020. This was shortly after the murder of George Floyd, whose portrait was the first to be memorialized. Each of these paintings is the portrait of a person whose life was taken too soon. I hope that I am creating a healing space for their names to be remembered. Black Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.
KAWS: I VOTED. It’s our democratic freedom and right regardless of the powers that attempt to take that away and silence us. 2020 has been full of tragedy and loss. We need to push for change and hold onto hope especially when the system works against us. Vote.
Shepard Fairey: I believe in the potential of democracy to serve the needs of the many over the needs of the few. There are many ways to participate in democracy, but voting may be the most powerful and important. Our votes determine the policies that impact our lives directly and shape our society. For this sticker, I created a ballot box speaker because our votes amplify our voices. Our votes broadcast what we believe in, and robust voter turnout builds a more truly representative democracy.
The magazine hits newsstands on Monday, October 26, and is available for pre-order at the following URL: https://www.shop.nymag.com/.
Stickers will be available for free while supplies last at select locations across the country, inclusive of 106 Crate and Barrel and CB2 stores; museums including the Brooklyn Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, Hammer Museum, and MOCADetroit; and at independent bookstores such as Blue Bicycle Books (Charleston, SC), Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO), Politics and Prose (Washington, DC), Prairie Lights Books (Iowa City, IA), and Charis Books & More (Decatur, GA). Stickers will also be distributed by nonprofits including Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a membership organization run by Returning Citizens (Formerly Convicted Persons), and Campus Vote Project, which helps campuses empower students with the information they need to register and vote. They will also be included at no cost in select orders from retailers such as Birchbox, Hill House Home, Framebridge, Modcloth, Parachute, Stuart Weitzman, and Warby Parker.