As the Creative Director of TIME, I spend most of my day staring at a blank canvas.
The stark, white space, which has been called the “most important real estate in journalism,” is framed by an iconic red border. And while that 8 x 10.5-inch canvas can prove daunting to fill at times, there’s an incredible amount of comfort and pride in knowing that for nearly 100 years the work of the world’s best artists and photographers have helped bring it to life.
That remarkable consistency of showcasing amazing artistry has been a trademark since a lithographic crayon portrait of Joseph Cannon by American artist William Oberhardt appeared on the first cover of TIME nearly a century ago. But it’s also a commitment to reinvention that keeps TIME relevant today.
With TIMEPieces: Building a Better Future, an NFT community initiative we are launching at TIME, we get to combine both – commissioning great artists and photographers while leading the brand into a new, inventive space.
We reached out to 19 artists, from nearly every continent and a wide range of artistic disciplines and backgrounds. We asked each to create a piece of art centered around the theme of building a better future – the blank canvas was theirs to fill.
Participants who have previously created TIME covers include prominent Atlanta artist Charly Palmer, digital artist studio Brobel Design, Cuban-American artist Edel Rodriguez, typographic artist John Mavroudis, German-born painter Marc Burkhardt, Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi and Canadian artist Shana Wilson. The list also includes Tim O’Brien, who has painted more TIME covers in the past 30 years than any artist, and 15-year-old Tyler Gordon, one of the youngest artists to ever paint a TIME cover (LeBron James, Dec. 21, 2020).
What I love about the mix of artists is it brings varied forms of art from the digital world and new voices into the TIME family, including works by Victor Mosquera, Micah Johnson, Houda Bakkali, Oscar Mar and others.
We also asked each of the artists to invite another artist they admire into the project, an idea that serves to expand the reach and create wonderful pairings. Half of the 38 participating artists have never created an NFT. Nine have previously done covers of TIME.
The collection also features a variety of messages – from the effects of climate change to inspirational women, from the issue of equality to the need for passion and creativity.
The serenity and calmness of nature is beautifully captured in landscapes by photographers John Knopf and Cath Simard. As Knopf says, “there is something about the stillness of a photo that is just completely calming. Unlike a film, which gets 30 frames per second to make a moment perfect, a photographer gets one frame. I believe that landscape photography not only vastly increases our awareness of the fascinating world around us but reminds us of the importance of preserving and protecting it.”
Wilson, who has painted two TIME covers (Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Jackie Kennedy), said of her work: “I paint to ensure legacies are discovered, celebrated, and remembered. To right the balance of the way women are portrayed in HERstory. It is not my story I wish to share, but theirs.” Her NFT piece includes more than a dozen of her large-scale portraits of inspirational women.
Gordon, named one of TIME’s Kid of the Year honorees in 2020, painted a scene of equality. “To build a better future, we must take responsibility. Responsibility for ourselves, of each other, and of the world. Everything that we see happening worldwide has a cause,” said Gordon. “That means we can do something about it. Whether it’s the ongoing pandemic, pollution, inequality. If we all do our part, and do it right. We can build a better future!”
Bakkali, a visual artist based in Spain, summed up her vibrant piece as a representation of “the desire of a dynamic future, without limits, full of creativity, fantasy, party and fun.”
On Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 at noon EST, you will be able to purchase these pieces on nft.time.com.
Click here to read more about our vision for how these TIMEPieces will help evolve our relationship with the TIME community.
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