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Illustrator Mari Andrew Shares Her Favorite DC Spots

The artist and writer will be at Sixth & I on Thursday to promote her first book.

Mari Andrew's illustrated map of all her favorite spots in DC. Image courtesy of Penguin Random House.

You’ve probably seen writer and artist Mari Andrew’s work on Instagramthe clever, introspective illustrations that examine everything from love to mortality to the highs and lows of texting.

The now-New Yorker started drawing a few years ago when she lived in DC, calling it a way to process her life and be creative outside of the nine-to-five world. And even though she now has over 760,000 followers on Instagram and is a full-time artist and writer, she’s says she’s still pinching herself that she has enough clout to write a book.

“I never set out to be relatable or to necessarily even connect with other people,” says Andrew, 31, who said she didn’t even think people would see her art when she first started making it. “I make art for myself. I wasn’t doing it for anyone else.”

The same could be said of her new book. Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood is Andrew’s Instagram work in written form. The essays follow Andrew’s meandering path through her twenties while reflecting on the complexities of growing up, and are interspersed with new illustrations she created just for the book.

The cover of Andrew’s book. Image courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Many of the essays were written while Andrew lived in DC, and she’ll be back in town to answer questions about the book and give a TED-style talk at Sixth & I this Thursday.

She speaks fondly of her time in DC—she lived in Mt. Pleasant, which she calls “my favorite place on earth,” even devoting an entire essay in the book to the neighborhood.

When she wasn’t working day jobs—Andrew managed a boutique, did marketing, and worked for some local nonprofits—she was at The Lemon Collective, working on her illustrations. She calls Rock Creek Park, Best World Supermarket, the bar Room 11, and Lettie Gooch boutique favorite local haunts, too.

And she’s especially excited about her event at Sixth & I, which she used to frequent for concerts back in the day. “When they approached me about doing an event, I almost fainted I was so excited,” she says. “It’s such a dream.”

Becoming an illustrator, writing a book, and going on tour are certainly things Andrew didn’t see coming as she navigated her twenties, she says, but she wants that to be a reminder to everyone who reads it.

“I think a lot of 24-year-olds feel very stuck in whatever they’re doing now, whoever they’re dating now, wherever they’re living now, like this is going to be their life forever,” she says. “That’s clearly not the case.”

See Andrew on Thursday, March 29 at 7PM, Sixth & I, 600 I St., NW.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.