Our fall cover artist, Jennifer Luxton, describes herself as a “journalist by training, designer by profession, illustrator by passion, and amateur taxidermist by moonlight.” Originally from California, she now lives in the Pacific Northwest and is the lead designer at YES! Magazine, a solutions oriented social justice publication. Among other topics, her assignments have led her to delve into the worlds of creative resistance, sustainable death practices, and “kayaktivism”: protesting with a coordinated group of kayakers.
As both a journalist and artist, Luxton is a storyteller at heart. In school she was torn between drawing and writing but now enjoys not being limited to one form or the other. “Being versed in both words and illustrations lets me choose which are best to tell the story at hand.”
Her process as an editorial illustrator starts with thinking about what the audience already knows about a topic and what obvious images might first come to mind. She then asks herself how she can twist the perception of something by playing with those images. “I try to be clever, cheeky, and conceptual in my work, while also being conscious of how much I’m editorializing—it’s the journalist in me.” She usually completes the concept digitally in a style that is bright and graphic with measured use of color. Whether she is illustrating an article or movement message, Luxton considers her role as an artist to be the same. In both types of work she seeks “to package content in a way that is accessible, inviting, exciting, and potentially provocative.”
Since the election, the stories she’s focused on have revolved more and more around resistance. “I’ve had more opportunities to illustrate about the state of the world now than I ever did.” In a time when movement-building is more important than ever to protect equal rights and the integrity of the country, Luxton finds art indispensible in making “movement messages visual.”