A hug from artist Nemu Takahashi

As it became clear that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus would limit human interaction, local illustrator and watercolor artist Amy Wike turned to art to process her feelings.

“Before enough time had even elapsed for me to miss hugs, I knew that was going to be a big hurdle for me,” Wike says, and she “was trying to mentally prepare and figure out ways to combat that.”

So she reimagined hugs through her project “A Hug or Something Like It,” which delivers visual interpretations of hugs as $20 care packages that Wike calls “Hug Packets.” The artwork is made by D.C.-area artists, who create 2.5 by 2.5-inch pieces in any medium. Some take the hug theme literally, like a couple embracing and kissing through face masks; others are abstract, like a collection of concentric circles.

Hug Packets will be available starting March 31 with free shipping and will each include five randomly selected mini hug prints. The care packages may be sent to the purchaser or to a loved one with a personalized note.

Artists have until March 28 at 5 p.m. to send in their work, or until 30 artworks are submitted. Wike is limiting the number of artworks to 30 so that each artist is paid decently during a time when many are struggling. For every $20 packet that is purchased, Wike will keep $5 for production and delivery. The remaining proceeds will be split evenly among the artists.

Along with providing financial support, Wike hopes that the process of collaborating and producing art for “A Hug or Something Like It” will be therapeutic for artists.

So far, 12 artists have submitted work, with Wike included: Angie Meche Kilcullen, Christine Vineyard, Katie Tyler, Kim Sandara, Laura King, Martina Sestakova, Mayya Agapova, Michelle Lisa Herman, Mike Guy, Nemu Takahashi, and The Paper Darlings.

“As soon as it’s acceptable, I’m going to line up my friends and family and hand out a giant set of awkwardly long hugs,” Wike says. “Until then, I’m pulling together this project to send out some stand-ins.”

Artists can send submissions to amy@amywikeillustration.com with “Hug” in the subject line and include their name, social media handles, website (if applicable), and artwork files.

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