Mark Giaimo’s Politics and Play Toys

It’s so cool when past and present worlds collide. When I was a daily reporter at Scripps Howard News Service in the early Aughts, I worked with this great artist and designer named Mark Giaimo. But as the journalism industry collapsed and we all found different paths, I lost touch with him everywhere outside of Facebook. I knew he had started painting in earnest and was working at the Washington Post Magazine, but that was about it.

Fast forward to this fall, and I notice that his art is now being represented at the Susan Calloway Fine Arts gallery in Georgetown. I’ve known Susan for many years, since her gallery is a go-to for many of DC’s top designers.

Mark paints across many different genres, from portraiture to landscape to still life. But as I perused his portfolio, I was completely blown away by his political caricatures, which NAIL the personalities of the current presidential candidates:

My far and away favorite: "Teapot Ted" Cruz

My far-and-away favorite: “Teapot Ted” Cruz


"Training Wheels" with Marco Rubio

“Training Wheels” with Marco Rubio


"Bernie, the Giant Slayer" Sanders. Awesome.

“Bernie, the Giant Slayer” Sanders. Awesome.


Jeb "Little Boy Bush"

Jeb “Little Boy Bush”


"Queen Hillary"

“Queen Hillary”

And last but not least — the Elephant in the circus Room: Donald Trump. Mark did this illustration for The Washington Post in July:

"Stop Laughing at Donald Trump," Outlook Section, July 19, 2015

“Stop Laughing at Donald Trump,” Outlook Section, July 19, 2015

I can’t wait to see if Mark does a portrait of Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. But in the meantime, I’ve also been drawn to his still lifes with toys, or “Toy Lifes.” As he explains on his website,

Given the costs of hiring models, the time constraints imposed by one’s day job etc., and my loathing of the process of painting from photos, I was left with few alternatives. … Toys are cheap, quiet and respectful (they don’t argue about the size of their nose), can hold a pose forever, and crucially, are somewhat anthropomorphic, which forces me to stay disciplined in my drawings (we know what they look like). They’re like artist casts but in color, and they lend themselves to a variety of treatment: as narratives, as satires or as homages of the still life genre.

Here are some of my favorites, starting with the one that’s currently hanging in Susan Calloway’s gallery:

"Knowledge and Wisdom"

“Knowledge and Wisdom”


"How Big is Big?"

“How Big is Big?”





"Where is my Mind?"

“Where is my Mind?”

I don’t know about the Big Boy, but Mark’s mind is clearly operating at an inspired level, interpreting the people and things we see every day in wholly new perspectives.


  1. Great work! The political caricatures remind me of Cartoons & Cocktails. For more like this, I’ve posted the event to your events page.

  2. I think the toy pieces are really creative!