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 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. Because we’re a Washington magazine, many of these pieces focus on politics or policy; others, however, seek to make broader cultural statements. Each week, we’ll update the below space with the latest contribution from our rotating group of artists. — Richard Just, editor of The Washington Post Magazine

‘Outsourced Self-Care’


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’


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’


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’


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’


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.”



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’


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.”



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.”

Art from previous issues

‘Summer Vacation’


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’


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’


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 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’


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’


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’


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’


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’


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 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’


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.”



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.”



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!”



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’


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’


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.”



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.”



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’


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’


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’


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’


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’


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.”



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.”



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’


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’


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’


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’


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’


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’


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.



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.