We all know the traditional "I Voted" sticker that we pick up at the polls after casting our ballots during each election. This year, with more people voting by mail than ever before, we wanted to try something different. So NBCLX asked artists from across the U.S. to reimagine the “I Voted” sticker for 2020. One of the artists to take us up on the challenge is a Japanese artist based in Los Angeles who goes by Naoshi.
Using sand art, Naoshi created an “I Voted” sticker that features three animals blasting off into the future on a “pencil rocket.” She explained to NBCLX’s Jeremy Berg how she imagined the concept and why she thinks America’s democratic system of voting is more powerful than Japan’s indirect system for electing a prime minister.
You can find Naoshi on Instagram at @naoshisunae. And to find Naoshi's digital sticker and our entire collection of artist-created "I Voted" stickers, search LXtion2020 on Giphy. Share them on your social platforms to tell the world you voted!
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Berg: Can you tell me about the type of art that you do?
Naoshi: I'm making art by colored sand. This is colored sand.
Berg: So tell me why you wanted to be a part of this project? Why is voting important?
Naoshi: So in Japan, we can’t vote directly [for] prime minister. In the U.S., a lot of people can vote directly. So this is very interesting for me. And so [the] vote is very important. There is a chance to reflect our hope, your hope for everyday life by [your] vote.
Berg: How different is it than what you have back home in Japan?
Naoshi: In Japan, I can't choose. So, very different. In the U.S., people can [make a] choice for the president. I think this is very good.
Berg: So describe to me the work of art you made in front of you.
Naoshi: When I heard [about] the “I Voted” sticker project, paper and pencil came into my mind [and] imagination. And cat, bear and the cheetah are my favorite animals, characters. So this represents racial diversity in the U.S. Then by voting I hope we all fly into a bright future and get over this pandemic with a pencil rocket like them.
Berg: How did you start working with sand? Why sand?
Naoshi: Why sand? I studied by myself my art. I didn't go to art school. So I think I need[ed] a new thing, [a] new style. Nobody did sand art. The way I make sand art [is like] when I was a child. So it reminded me. [It was] nostalgic, and it was very fun.
Berg: Do you think art can send a message? You mentioned you want this to represent blasting off into the future, and diversity. These are things that are important to you?
Naoshi: Yes. I watched the Black Lives Matter protest news. So I created Black Lives Matter art and I posted it on my Instagram. And my follower commented, “I'd like to buy this; it looks like me.” And I decided to create something. And I sold over 100 so far. And I donated all profits to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. This is great. [It] inspired me.
Berg: So what do you want to tell all Americans right now as they're getting ready for Election Day?
Naoshi: I hope you vote. I hope you go vote.