Art has the potential to enlighten lives of the viewers and to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” as the saying goes. Political art of the past century has helped reflect the times and serve as symbols for social change from the ground up. The history of protest art is substantial. Here, a sampling:
Diego Rivera helped lead and contribute to Muralists for the Mexican Communist Support in the 1920s as a leader and in the form of his contribution of multiple murals painted worldwide often depicting the struggle of workers. The anonymous, gorilla mask-wearing Guerilla Girl group calling themselves the “conscience of the art world” fight against the lack of recognition and inclusion of women and people of color in art, through protest art. England-based artist Banksy is an anonymous political graffiti artist using satirical and subversive witticisms to remind the public of war, poverty and the absurdity of choices that government leaders make, among other focal points. Each of these groups of artists demonstrate art and activism can go hand-in-hand and should reflect the society around them in a manner that inspires thoughtful social change.
Our cover artist, Toonpunk, is the political cartoonist, underground comic book artist and video producer whose love of comics and cartoons thematically runs through his artwork, often with a depth that implies a disturbing dystopian existence underneath. Toonpunk has emerged from the underground punk scene to become a recognized figure within London’s art world. He has exhibited in Barcelona and Berlin as well as having worked with established galleries in London. His contemporary style and uncompromising look at the world have brought him great acclaim over the past few years, having his artworks exhibited alongside Banksy, Peter Blake and Abner Harris. Toonpunk’s work featured heavily at London’s Moniker Art Fair in 2015 where he collaborated with the well-known artists Ben Eine and Schoony to create “The Renaissance is Now” a 23-meter Bitcoin inspired installation.
His most famous work to date, “The Wikiman” is a portrait of Julian Assange, painted from sketches made during his infamous speech from the Ecuadorian Embassy balcony in London, where he lived in asylum for over seven years as a political prisoner of multiple countries his whistleblowing organization Wikileaks has spotlighted. The painting went mainstream in 2016 after Wikileaks used it for a promotional campaign to raise funds for the Free Julian Assange campaign.
You can support free speech, free press and protest art by buying copies of it in poster, t-shirt and even sticker form on
Toonpunk’s most recent works merge analogue and digital techniques to create an aesthetic of the imperfect psychedelic life trapped in a digitally sanitized world. To learn more about Toonpunk, visit