Art With a Point

A continuously updating collection of stand-alone illustrations from the Post Magazine
By The Washington Post Magazine

Most art that appears in magazines is commissioned to illustrate a specific story. But when we relaunched The Washington Post Magazine in October of 2018, we created a space in each week’s print issue (located on the table of contents page) where the art itself could take center stage — and communicate an idea of its own. Below, commentary — cultural, seasonal, political — from a rotating cast of artists on the state of the world. — Richard Just, editor of The Washington Post Magazine

‘(Conven)tion’

ANGELA HSIEH

Aug. 9, 2020, issue: “A convention without physically convening — hence the title — will feel a bit odd, but moving it to a virtual space during a pandemic is the obvious solution. Political conventions are such over-the-top spectacles, and it was a challenge to depict the atmosphere of an in-person gathering. With this image, I wanted to highlight the contrast between the teeming crowds vs. the socially distanced “crowd” on the screens.”

‘Distractions’

MICKEY DUZYJ

July 26, 2020, issue: “The return of sports is meant to be a welcome distraction from this year’s news, but if its “reopening” looks anything like our country’s other reopenings, we’re in for yet another disaster.”

‘Dismantle. Rebuild.’

TARA JACOBY

July 19, 2020, issue: “After centuries of inequity, violence and hate, we have a renewed chance to rebuild America. We all need to work to dismantle what has been so deeply ingrained in our country and our minds. It’s time to reevaluate and re-create an America with stronger ideals and a safer infrastructure for everyone. The only way we can do this is by actively working together — every day.”

‘Corona Holiday’

LAURA BREILING

July 12, 2020, issue: “As economies try to reopen during this pandemic, the most nerve-racking spaces will likely be those that are built to entertain large crowds: malls, museums, theme parks. For me, I’m eager to get back to an aquarium — where I can watch a manta ray flying through the water the whole afternoon. Will people continue to stay away? Or will we visit these places just as we did before?”

‘The Fourth of July’

RICHARD A. CHANCE

June 28, 2020, issue: “This Fourth of July, we can’t let patriotic fervor push aside the message of Black Lives Matter. With civil unrest in the streets, the holiday has taken on a different feel. For years, I celebrated Independence Day at Coney Island before seemingly outgrowing it. But maybe 2020 is the year I’ll go back — as we start America anew.”

‘Our Stories’

NOA DENMON

June 21, 2020, issue: “After the protests following the death of George Floyd, I looked through some old photographs of my family. I thought about all the stories my grandmother has told me about the protests in the ’60s and the racism she has encountered. Who knew we’d have similar stories to tell today?”

‘All-Inclusive Vacation’

CYNTHIA KITTLER

June 14, 2020, issue: “The pandemic has left many of us homebound, robbing us of a chance at a traditional summer getaway. Here, a person is still taking time off but is vacationing at home. The accessories — like what I would consider my dream umbrella — help with the illusion.”

‘Summer in the Tidal Basin’

MATT HUYNH

June 7, 2020, issue: “When I hear stories of flora and fauna thriving among the absence of humans, I picture unthreatened, un-self-conscious animals taking advantage of summer in all the ways we’ve taken for granted and will be missing.”

Art from previous issues

‘Zen Overload’

ADRIANA BELLET

May 31, 2020, issue: “We are all missing so much because of the pandemic. Still, I can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed by the abundance of nice emails that it has brought, of group conversations with family, of chats with long-lost friends, of books to be read and podcasts to be heard, shows to watch and food to cook — all those lemons to squeeze in order to feel like I have made the most of this bad turn.”

‘Calendar With Red, Yellow and Blue, 2020’

JON KRAUSE

May 24, 2020, issue: “Tying the idea of a calendar to recognizable nonrepresentational works of art, like Piet Mondrian’s “Composition” and “Tableau” paintings, evokes the feeling of looking at something familiar, but not quite right.”

‘Working Through the Lockdown’

PAUL BLOW

May 17, 2020, issue: “My studio is in an area with many self-employed artisans, ranging from boat builders to cabinet makers. The community is one of the reasons I work here, but right now they’ve all shut down due to lack of business. It’s a bit lonely, and I feel guilty that I’m the only one still able to work.”

‘Our New (Virtual) Reality’

TARA JACOBY

May 10, 2020, issue: “I’m starting to get the hang of living life online. At first it was difficult — I definitely devolved slightly during the first month of quarantine — but I’ve settled into a routine as time goes on. I’ve been keeping up with friends and family, working, teaching, exercising, grocery shopping and even dating — virtually.”

‘Between the Lines’

CYNTHIA KITTLER

May 3, 2020, issue: “We’re all battling an invisible enemy right now, one that visually manifests in the negative space between us: long lines in front of supermarkets, face masks and empty streets. The first time I saw a long line outside a store — an image that’s always symbolized some kind of crisis — the pandemic suddenly became very real.”

‘Small Bubble’

JEAN JULLIEN

April 26, 2020, issue: “My family is fortunate to be isolated together, but it has made work increasingly difficult. Like a lot of people, I feel that our bubble is a bit too small for all of us.”

‘Drink Up’

LAURA BREILING

April 19, 2020, issue: “I wanted to illustrate the dire nature of our collective situation: that we see images of the destruction wrought by climate change all the time, and yet our world leaders do nothing. Here, a polar bear clings to a melting ice cube, and even though we know it’s killing him, we still drink nonetheless.”

‘House Party’

MATT HUYNH

April 12, 2020, issue: “There’s a regular dance night here in New York with DJs and art installations. When the recent event was canceled because of the mandates about physical distancing, organizers announced a Zoom videoconference party instead. I love the idea of sharing a single soundtrack, being comfortable in your home environment and getting to be a little less self-conscious about your moves.”

‘Soap Pusher’

JON KRAUSE

April 5, 2020, issue: “After a trip to the grocery store to see the barren shelves for myself, I thought about how fast something like hand sanitizer could, in our current dire situation, turn into an incredibly lucrative street product.”

‘Let It Bubble’

ADRIANA BELLET

March 29, 2020, issue: “Witnessing the cherry blossoms each spring is both a feast for the eyes and a grounding experience that connects us to the wonders of nature. Since the coronavirus pandemic has kept most of us from seeing them up close, here’s a reminder that the blooms will eventually come again — and that hope is just around the corner.”

‘Bracketology’

JON KRAUSE

March 22, 2020, issue: “I started participating in March Madness bracket pools as a kid. I’d do all the necessary research (i.e., watching a lot of “SportsCenter”) — yet, inevitably, the winner would be someone who knew nothing about the sport. With this image, I wanted a literal interpretation of a bracket pool, complete with a smug winner surrounded by the carnage of upsets and buzzer-beaters, represented by the abandoned pool floats. Then, after the image went to press, the tournament was canceled as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. For me, this quickly put things in perspective. I feel awful for the players, especially the seniors who likely won’t play college basketball again.”

‘The Unlucky Irish’

PAUL BLOW

March 15, 2020, issue: “Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (which is often used as an excuse to drink to excess) seems basically harmless, but I also question the stereotyping of an entire country — dressing up as a leprechaun with a funny red beard, etc. — and its history.”

‘Don’t Worry, I’ll Be Back’

CYNTHIA KITTLER

March 8, 2020, issue: “The era of peak TV has given us so many great shows, but it’s almost too easy to live vicariously through them all. I’m trying to remind myself that I want to be more social and see my friends and family, live a real life, and feel my own emotions.”

‘Holding Tight’

MATT HUYNH

March 1, 2020, issue: “The idea for this piece was to illustrate the angst surrounding the Democratic Party and the candidates vying for a nomination for the presidency. Elections have always had maddening elements; add social media, the chaotic vote in Iowa and the normalization of boorish behavior, and you get a process that has become unpredictable and difficult to look away from.”

‘Take a Leap, Day’

TARA JACOBY

Feb. 23, 2020, issue: “When I think of leap day, I think of couples observing their anniversaries once every four years or elderly people celebrating their 21st birthdays. I wanted to go a less obvious route with this — a character who’s frustrated because there’s an extra day tacked on to what seems like an already very long year.”

‘Winter Sleep’

LAURA BREILING

Feb. 16, 2020, issue: “How to get comfy sleep during a nasty winter night: Get a good cup of tea, turn on a realistic number (20 to 30) of humidifiers to beat dry air, and cuddle up with piles of pillows and your pets. Voila! Good night.”

‘Valentines’

JEAN JULLIEN

Feb. 9, 2020, issue: “I wanted to create an enthusiastic depiction of solitude in the hope of counteracting the usual media and pop culture narrative around Valentine’s Day — that love is only something shared between couples. People love all kinds of things, themselves included.”

‘Once More Unto the Corn’

JON KRAUSE

Feb. 2, 2020, issue: “My original idea for this illustration was purely geographical — presidential hopefuls among Iowa corn in advance of the caucuses. But it also works on another level: candidates emerging from a crowded field of contenders.”

‘Resolve to Fail’

PAUL BLOW

Jan. 26, 2020, issue: “We make resolutions during the holiday period, when we have time to reflect. But once we’re back to reality, life often thwarts our best intentions. This annual process is supposed to offer an opportunity for change, but often it results in tying ourselves to a new problem: useless guilt.”

(Illustration based on photo by Charles Kelly/Associated Press)

‘The Dreamer’

ADRIANA BELLET

Jan. 19, 2020, issue: “In this illustration, I depicted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. surrounded by multicolored clouds — I was inspired by 1960s-era aesthetics — that represent not only the ambition of his vision, but also the breadth of his societal influence. Since he stood for love and respect among all people, I wanted to use a warm palette, rather than the cool blue tones often used to portray him.”

‘Exit Music’

MATT HUYNH

Jan. 12, 2020, issue: “Awards shows feel increasingly out of touch and irrelevant, especially in a world ruled by social media, where we can burrow into our niches. I wanted to compare the arenas of these competitions with the ruins of ancient Roman theaters and auditoriums, sites that are inextricably associated with the origins of Western theater.”

‘Winter Walks’

TARA JACOBY

Jan. 5, 2020, issue: “I loved the idea of bundling up a pet and owner in matching outfits for the inevitable trek out in the snow, since I dread going outside in the winter — and so does my dog.”

‘New Year’s Sleep-Through’

LAURA BREILING

Dec. 29, 2019, issue: “The fantasy of New Year’s Eve: a wild party where anything goes. The reality: falling asleep well before the clock strikes midnight.”

‘Awkward Gratitude’

CYNTHIA KITTLER

Dec. 15, 2019, issue: “I wanted to illustrate the potentially awkward reactions people can have when getting gifts over the holidays. There’s a lot of pressure when people come together to unpack presents — there are even online guides to help people react to gifts in the ‘right’ way. One year I gave everyone in my family homemade salted caramel, in the hopes of offering something personal rather than just buying presents … but I still have the feeling that nobody ate it.”

‘Free the Weed’

PAUL BLOW

December 8, 2019, issue: “There is growing momentum for breaking the cycle of criminality with regards to marijuana. It’s a plant that’s used in all sorts of other ways — ropemaking, for example. To many observers, criminalizing it seems increasingly absurd.”

‘Capitol Exhalation’

JON KRAUSE

Nov. 17, 2019, issue: “I wanted to weave together one of D.C.’s iconic monuments with the Nationals’ World Series win. Here, pitcher Daniel Hudson’s victorious glove toss stands in for the Statue of Freedom on top of the U.S. Capitol.”

‘Cacophony’

JEAN JULLIEN

Nov. 10, 2019, issue: “Politics often seems overly showy — composed of people bickering and behaving in a childish way. I think it’s been detrimental to our image of politicians.”

‘Memento Mori’

ADRIANA BELLET

Oct. 27, 2019, issue: “Besides the fun of both Halloween and the Day of the Dead, they’re also good for us: In Western culture we tend to fear and ignore death, which only leads to a lack of preparation for what’s inevitably to come. In a small — perhaps even unconscious — way, these holidays act as a modern-day memento mori, reminding us to enjoy life a bit more.”

‘Columbus Syndrome’

JON KRAUSE

Oct. 20, 2019, issue: “One of the worst effects of gentrification is the displacement of a community with deep ties to a certain area or neighborhood. Often this displacement is made more painful by the incoming residents’ lack of knowledge about the culture and history of a place: One can’t ‘discover’ something that was already there. The character of a neighborhood suffers — until it looks, feels, smells and sounds homogeneous.”

‘Dancing in October’

CYNTHIA KITTLER

Oct. 13, 2019, issue: “My favorite aspects of fall: getting to wear socks, harvesting apples at my parents’, long walks along the river, colorful forests. It’s one of the few times in the year — a short and precious period — when you can finally get dressed without worrying about sweating or freezing.”

‘Back-to-Work Wear’

MATT HUYNH

Oct. 6, 2019, issue: “The Supreme Court reconvenes this week, which means that the justices’ iconic robes are going back to work, too. I wanted the wire hangers to evoke maintenance and order; I also wanted to nod to the idea of service, with the famous dry cleaner’s line: ‘We love our customers.’ ”

‘Pumpkin Spicezilla’

LAURA BREILING

Sept. 29, 2019, issue: “Behold: Pumpkin Spicezilla, the king of monsters, awakened each autumn and empowered by capitalism, sprinkling enormous amounts of pumpkin flavoring on lattes, soaps, lotion, candles — anything that comes his way. You’ll smell it everywhere. There’s no escape!”

‘Early Onset Christmas’

TARA JACOBY

Sept. 22, 2019, issue: “Autumn is my favorite season — it’s the best time to sit outside with my dog and a good book (or my sketchbook!). But my love of fall is tempered by how quickly it’s overtaken by Christmas, with its egregious capitalism and oversaturation of absurdly tacky and invasive decorations. Aren’t the beautiful fall leaves decorative enough?”

‘Swipe/Reject to the Left’

PAUL BLOW

September 15, 2019, issue: “Within the world of dating apps, swiping left immediately translates to rejection. I wanted to illustrate how all of that possibility — those lost connections and lost conversations — can so easily dissolve into thin air.”

‘Stupor Bowl’

JON KRAUSE

Sept. 8, 2019, issue: “It’s the start of football season, so I wanted to depict a barfly in their own world at a sports bar, while everyone else is cheering. I kept sketching the Super Bowl trophy and realized that, with a little tweaking, it could easily look like a figure resting their head on their hand in a completely disinterested way. I had Dürer’s ‘Melencolia’ in mind, along with Brancusi’s sculpture work.”

‘A Tale of Two Seasons’

JEAN JULLIEN

Sept. 1, 2019, issue: “I’m definitely a summer person. There’s nothing I like more than spending my days going to the beach and painting outside. Getting back to urban life in September always feels to me like a total drag. (Much as it probably does for members of Congress.)”

‘Back to School’

CYNTHIA KITTLER

Aug. 25, 2019, issue: “The hordes of commuting parents taking their children back to school feels like a modern and urban ritual. It’s completely opposite from my experience as a kid. I grew up in a very small village in southern Germany, where my friends and I walked to school alone. We felt very grown up and had a lot of fun.”

‘Outsourced Self-Care’

TARA JACOBY

Aug. 11, 2019, issue: “I know a lot of people who indulge in a self-care day. It’s important to put yourself first once in a while, but some people feel that ‘self-care’ means emptying your wallet.”

‘Family Portrait’

ADRIANA BELLET

Aug. 4, 2019, issue: “My grandmother was our family’s voice of wisdom around the dinner table when I was growing up — the one we all turned to with questions about obscure facts. I’m not sure how she’d react if she knew that now we refer our dinner-table questions to a blue-light-emitting speaker on a shelf.”

‘Summer on 18th Street’

MATT HUYNH

July 28, 2019, issue: “Since Washington is known for its formal institutions, I wanted to depict a D.C. neighborhood after the sun goes down: bustling with nightlife and cultural diversity, juxtaposed against the city’s rowhouses.”

‘Nature Can Wait’

PAUL BLOW

July 21, 2019, issue: “So many of us sweat it out while confined within four walls, rather than outside, where nature can heal us. I cycle and run; for both, I just need to step out my front door. Exercising inside, on a machine, seems sacrilegious.”

‘Detained Childhood’

BRIAN STAUFFER

July 14, 2019, issue: “The playground swing — an immediate symbol of the freedom and innocence of childhood — points to the betrayal of that innocence by America’s current border policy. I have to believe that if supporters of the policy spent five minutes with children in the detention centers, or in the ultraviolent communities these families are fleeing, they would see that the truth of their hardship is undeniable and sincere.”

‘Extinguished’

ERIC PETERSEN

June 30, 2019, issue: “Summer means pool season. While hanging out at someone’s private pool can be relaxing, public pools symbolize community to me. They’re more social — and more fun.”

‘Home Delivery’

JEAN JULLIEN

June 23, 2019, issue: “We can outsource so much of daily life now: grocery shopping, laundry. It makes sense as a technological evolution, but it can be taken to the extreme. I love ordering in dinner, of course — but the human contact I get while wandering around the shops in my city feels important.”

‘Excannabis’

JON KRAUSE

June 16, 2019, issue: “If cannabidiol, or CBD, can help in the ways it’s marketed (alleviating pain, depression, anxiety, your dog’s anxiety …), then it’s easy to see why it’s become so popular. Even if it’s nothing more than a placebo effect, CBD triggers hope and belief, and those can be powerful allies.”

‘Summer Vacation’

ADRIANA BELLET

June 9, 2019, issue: “The ideal of the family vacation is often far from the reality: There’s the joy of spending time with your loved ones vs. the irritation of, well, actually being around them. We inevitably project great hopes onto summer vacation, and while those can be dashed, the beauty is that — come next year — we’ll probably sign up to do it all over again.”

‘Plant Life’

FRANZISKA BARCZYK

June 2, 2019, issue: “‘Plantfluencers’ — people who showcase their many houseplants on social media — are having a cultural moment. I can see the allure: Healthy plants broadcast one’s appreciation of nature and symbolize adulthood, since there’s a level of maintenance needed to keep plants alive.”

‘Invading Snappers’

MATT HUYNH

May 26, 2019, issue: “When a city is inundated with visitors, like Washington in the summer, it can feel transformed by the tourists’ gaze. Trying to capture a foreign space often means we voraciously consume it faster than we digest it, and only engage with the most superficial part of its identity. Still, it’s easy to forget that where you’re fortunate to live and work is the same place where others plan to spend their vacations.”

‘May’

CHLOE SCHEFFE

May 19, 2019, issue: “Happy hour is a spring and summer phenomenon: When the weather turns, people want to be outside and be communal. I was going for a visual mash-up here — something recognizable as happy hour and something recognizable as spring.”

‘What a Waster’

JEAN JULLIEN

May 12, 2019, issue: “I feel incredibly guilty about the amount of stuff we consume and throw out. As we evolve in the right direction and become more aware of what we can do to be better (no straws, no takeaway cups, etc.), our guilt increases around what we’re still not doing.”

‘Remix to Cognition’

JON KRAUSE

May 5, 2019, issue: “I’m a fan of the music of some of the artists accused of sexual assault, and I don’t think it’s possible to shut that off after learning about their alleged crimes. But now the specter of what they might have done will always be there — casting a pall over their music.”

‘Winter in Spring’

LYDIA ORTIZ

April 14, 2019, issue: “This week marks the premiere of the final season of the HBO series ‘Game of Thrones.’ I wanted this image of Daenerys (a character who represents political change) and her dragon Drogon flying past the Washington Monument to feel both melancholic and festive — like a farewell party.”

‘Forces at Work’

ADRIANA BELLET

April 7, 2019, issue: “After handing our privacy to huge tech companies without fully understanding what we were signing off on — and how it would change us — we’re starting to demand control of our personal information. A digital revolution is brewing, and it’s about time.”

‘The Myth of Merit’

ERIC PETERSEN

March 31, 2019, issue: “The college admissions scandal brought to the fore how members of the upper class can manipulate ideas around ‘merit’ to prove that their success is not arbitrary. Since celebrities were indicted in the scandal, I used a green screen set to play on the idea of students’ images being created for them by others.”

‘March’

CHLOE SCHEFFE

March 24, 2019, issue: “The revival of the social calendar in spring is an East Coast thing. I’m originally from Seattle, where we don’t get punishing winter weather, so there isn’t that same sense of freedom when winter passes. I think spring is a great metaphor for friendship: They’re both about warmth, abundance, growth or regrowth.”

‘All Eyes on Me’

FRANZISKA BARCZYK

March 17, 2019, issue: The sidewalks have become the realization of a dystopian novel: The digital deadwalkers — i.e., people too immersed in their phones — are among us, and they are nearly impossible to avoid. Literally. “I’ve had to move out of the way for someone on their phone and was annoyed by it, but also have done it myself because I really needed to read an email,” says artist Franziska Barczyk. She adds that a recent trip to East Asia may help to break her from the fear of missing out that causes people to stare at their phones: “I could only use my phone if WiFi was available. … Overall it was a great break.”

‘Exposé’

MATT HUYNH

March 10, 2019, issue: The pasts of a number of politicians have recently been major news. And as the 2020 campaign unfolds, there will surely be more revelations. Voters can accept some dissonance between who politicians claim to be and who they are, says illustrator Matt Huynh. However, voters can’t be infinitely forgiving: “I think we aren’t so naive to expect moral piety from representatives pragmatically dealing with messy expectations. But demanding an official resign or be otherwise punished for immoral, and certainly criminal, behavior is important to signal a standard of values and conduct for the wider community.”

‘Scooters’

JEAN JULLIEN

March 3, 2019, issue: You’ve been there. You’re walking down the sidewalk minding your business when — whoosh — an electric scooter zooms by. The latest transportation obsession has spread in popularity, not only in the nation’s capital but all over the world. Artist Jean Jullien can attest to this. “I’ve recently moved to Paris, and electric scooters are everywhere,” he says. “They’re very fast and silent and feel like they could just hit you from any angle. I’m sure they’re super convenient, but to this day they still scare me a bit!”

‘Unloading’

JON KRAUSE

Feb. 24, 2019, issue: It has become a familiar refrain in American life: We’re sending our thoughts and prayers. It’s a go-to line for politicians and other dignitaries following a national tragedy. But is it heartfelt? In the eyes of some — with the increasing rate of gun violence and little to no legislation to minimize it — the phrase has come to be synonymous with inaction. “Rather than filling theoretical boxes with empty gestures,” says artist Jon Krause, “those thoughts would better serve our country if applied toward tangible, collaborative solutions.”

‘The Oust’

ADRIANA BELLET

Feb. 17, 2019, issue: If you’re looking across the pond for relief from the political discord, try again. The United Kingdom is roiled by Brexit, its Parliament remains at loggerheads about how to proceed, and confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May is hanging on by a thread. For artist Adriana Bellet, the spectacle is personal: “As a Spanish woman married to a British man and living in Sweden, Brexit is not only troubling but downright tragic,” she says. “For me the worst is the disappearance of a Britain that was warm and welcoming, that took me in and taught me how to be an adult.”

‘The Doctor and the Rabbit’

LYDIA ORTIZ

Feb. 10, 2019, issue: Need something to keep your mind off the political upheaval? Artist Lydia Ortiz has an idea: space rovers. Not only do the Americans have InSight probing the surface of Mars like a planetary doctor, but now China has a rover, Yutu-2 (or Jade Rabbit-2), on the far side of the moon, a first in space exploration. “I like thinking and reading up on space exploration, most times to escape other things in the news,” Ortiz says. “It also often gives me perspective on how small I am.”

‘February’

CHLOE SCHEFFE

Feb. 3, 2019, issue: Spring is still weeks away, but artist Chloe Scheffe likes how it remains a state of mind for some. “Recently I saw a man carrying flowers in this very way,” she recalls. “The image stayed with me, I think, because it spoke so clearly of his other life — the life we all have, outside of work or school.” She adds, “One of my favorite things about East Coast winters is that bodegas still sell fresh flowers outside. I can walk my neighborhood in the dead of winter, during a snowfall, and see flowers in bloom.”

‘Closed’

FRANZISKA BARCZYK

Jan. 27, 2019, issue: America is in the throes of its most contentious debate about immigration in recent memory. Reports of child separations, the use of tear gas as a repellant and the deaths of two children in December at the U.S.-Mexico border break the heart of illustrator Franziska Barczyk. “The American flag stands for freedom and justice,” she argues. “However, the way migrants and refugees are handled, the opposite is revealed. [It’s] the mistreatment of vulnerable people.”

‘Not for Everyone’

ERIC PETERSEN

Jan. 20, 2019, issue: In this highly polarized era, what of contemporary art? Like politics, contemporary art can certainly divide people. But maybe that isn’t such a terrible thing. Art, after all, can be at its very best when it provokes a strong reaction in an audience. Eric Petersen says he is motivated to make people think and feel through his illustrations. “Become visually literate by exposing yourself to art,” he advises. “Don’t be afraid to like things that are unpopular or ambiguous.”

‘Racing to 2020’

MATT HUYNH

Jan. 13, 2019, issue: Decision time is here. No, not yet for you, dear voter. But, rather, for the men and women who will announce their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president. Those looking to unseat President Trump may end up joining a free-for-all of at least a dozen candidates. For their campaigns to get any traction before the Iowa caucuses next year, they’ll need to get ahead of the pack. Artist Matt Huynh hopes the primaries provide a more inspiring model than the 2016 election. “I’m optimistically, and I’m sure naively, hoping that the 2020 elections can cathartically reassure voters of the soundness of the democratic process.”

‘The Tripping Point’

JON KRAUSE

Jan. 6, 2019, issue: Yes, it’s winter. Yes, it’s cold. But there’s no question we live on a warming planet. The cracks are starting to show: A recent Trump administration report said that the effects of climate change, including wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves, are already battering the United States. “I don’t think it takes a science degree to see what is happening in the world,” artist Jon Krause says. “Neil deGrasse Tyson had a great quote in ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’ discussing the mass extinction of species: ‘The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming.’ Climate change is our generation’s impending asteroid. Hopefully we can make the necessary changes to ensure our fate isn’t the same as theirs.”

‘Roller Coaster’

JEAN JULLIEN

Dec. 30, 2018, issue: We all remember what it’s like to board a roller coaster for the first time. The sweaty palms. The pang of No Going Back once you get buckled into your seat by the attendant. The dizzying heights just as the ride crests. Maybe it isn’t all that different from confronting the arrival of a new year — especially given the rather tumultuous times in which we live. “As I grow older, I find that years go by much quicker,” artist Jean Jullien notes. “Too quick. At a scary pace, actually. And at the beginning of the year, you never know what it’s going to be like, but there’s no way of going back and no way of stopping the movement.”

‘Coming Home’

ADRIANA BELLET

Dec. 16, 2018, issue: Technology does wonders for staying in touch with loved ones when they’re far away. But nothing quite substitutes for the experience of being in their presence. If you’re traveling to visit friends and family during the holidays, remember why you’re going the extra mile. “Most of the year we are all so busy with our daily struggles that keeping contact with our loved ones via technology is not only convenient but even secretly preferred,” says artist Adriana Bellet. “The holidays are the only moment of the year when we are faced with the reality that, actually, there’s no replacement for face-to-face time.”

‘Sentinel’

LYDIA ORTIZ

Dec. 9, 2018, issue: Tomorrow, Dec. 10, is Human Rights Day, first recognized by the United Nations in 1948. For artist Lydia Ortiz, who was born in the Philippines, the concept of human rights first presented itself when, as a child, she visited the site of the Bataan Death March — the 1942 transfer of American and Filipino prisoners of war by the Japanese army. The lessons she learned about that historical episode continue to resonate with her as strongly as ever. “With all the critical conflicts happening in multiple nations today,” she says, “we should remind ourselves of our obligation to monitor and enforce human rights for all oppressed humans everywhere.”

‘December’

CHLOE SCHEFFE

Dec. 2, 2018, issue: Sunlight diminishes. Temperatures plummet. We’re forced to stay inside. The dawning of this annual ritual is only redeemed for many of us by the figurative warmth of holiday season social gatherings. Unless, of course, there is no one with whom you can share them. “In my own work I’m often thinking about loneliness and melancholy, so this assignment didn’t feel unnatural,” says Chloe Scheffe of her illustration. A fluorescent season of merriment, the ubiquitous presence of social media: They can only paper over the loneliness that’s out there. “It’s incredibly easy,” notes Scheffe, “to feel isolated in the real world.”

‘Leave the Turkey Out of This’

FRANZISKA BARCZYK

Nov. 18, 2018, issue: Huzzah, you’ve survived the midterm elections. But have you really? Because, certainly, you’ll need to gather with extended family and friends to dissect the outcomes and, even better, to forecast the presidential race of 2020 — all while fighting off the indigestion that can accompany this catered panel discussion known as Thanksgiving dinner. Illustrator Franziska Barczyk reminds us of the internecine conflict to come. German-born and now living in Toronto, Barczyk has been to a Thanksgiving or two in the States and offers this advice: “Smile, breathe, listen, don’t cut people off.” And then, of course, give thanks for civil discourse.

‘100 Years of Poppies’

MATT HUYNH

Nov. 11, 2018, issue: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row.” So begins the poem “In Flanders Fields” by the Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, who served during World War I. McCrae, then 42, wrote the words in honor of a fellow soldier and friend lost in battle along the Western Front. The flower, consecrated by the celebrated poem, would become an enduring symbol of both sacrifice and the utter ruin of warfare, explains illustrator Matt Huynh of Brooklyn. “This Veterans Day coincides with the centenary of the end of WWI, the ‘war to end all wars,’ ” he notes. “This image reflects on that 100-year-old promise for peace with poppies.”

‘American Turf War’

ERIC PETERSEN

Nov. 4, 2018, issue: Control of the U.S. House of Representatives hangs in the balance. The makeup of the Senate is at stake. Therefore, Tuesday’s election results will be an illuminating moment for the direction of the nation. But, for New Mexico artist Eric Petersen, it’s just the latest round of stupefyingly zero-sum gamesmanship between our two major political parties. “This illustration was inspired by a very popular video game played by my 11-year-old son in which two opposing teams compete to cover the shared territory with their own color,” Petersen said. “The U.S. as a functioning entity is being erased by our partisan turf war. Is this what we want?”

‘Knock Knock’

JEAN JULLIEN

Oct. 28, 2018, issue: Are you ready for Halloween? If not, French artist Jean Jullien’s piece about reversing roles might get you in the spirit. “I’ve always liked the notion of masks and costumes and [their] symbolism,” Jullien says. “So the idea [of the art] is just to get rid of the mask and have what’s behind as the scariest thing. I also like the reversing of position and having the child show up at the monster’s house.” In case you were wondering, when asked if the piece has any connection to Washington or politics, Jullien said: “Absolutely none.”

‘Our Awareness Time’

ADRIANA BELLET

October 21, 2018, issue: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Researching the subject, Stockholm-based artist Adriana Bellet found that, although the health campaign helps create a support system for women, there’s still work left to be done. “Some studies show that the mortality rate for African American women is remarkably higher compared to that of white women,” she says. “I wanted to shed a light on that disparity.”

‘Baked Macaroni’

JON KRAUSE

Oct. 14, 2018, issue: New York Times art critic Howard Devree once compared Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings to baked macaroni. So, naturally, when we asked Philadelphia artist Jon Krause, 42, to create a piece about food, a chef slinging pasta made total sense. “Broadly, I’d just like to suggest there are many ways to experience the culinary arts aside from a beautiful and expensive plate from a five-star restaurant,” said Krause, who made the art using spaghetti and tomato sauce after wet yarn and Silly String didn’t work.

‘Awakening’

LYDIA ORTIZ

Oct. 7, 2018, issue: This issue marks a new beginning for The Washington Post Magazine: new features, new layouts, new fonts. But new beginnings can conjure many things, and for artist Lydia Ortiz — whose work appears above — it’s insects. “I’ve always been so fascinated by rebirths,” Ortiz says. “I love the image of an entity laying dormant for a while as it re-creates itself. The metamorphosis of a butterfly is a fantastic example of a physical renewal.” Ortiz knows about change: She was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States at 19.

Credits: By The Washington Post Magazine. Designed by Christian Font and Michael Johnson.