See our most striking original illustrations and photography of the year
Curated by the NBC News Digital Art Department
Dec. 20, 2022
In a year in which Russia invaded Ukraine, democracy was tested at home, bitcoin and Brazilian butt lifts became mainstream, and Americans grappled with challenges ranging from mpox to online misinformation, NBC News worked with illustrators and photographers to produce an array of stunning art that captured the biggest stories of 2022. Here are some of the best works:
How an urban myth about litter boxes in schools became a GOP talking point
At least 20 Republican politicians have claimed that schools are making accommodations for students who identify as cats. The school districts say these claims are untrue.
Illustration by Robert Beatty
2022 New Year’s predictions draw some to astrology. Here’s why you should stay away.
Pseudoscience enriches charlatans at the expense of the public and distracts people from the very real science that can make the world a better place.
Illustration by Justine Goode
Crypto boom opens door to a new class of landlords
Startups are offering people a way to buy stakes in rental homes for as little as $50 through blockchain-based tokens.
Illustration by Daniel Jurman
Ukrainian refugees embark on a 15-hour train journey to safety
More than 4 million people fled Ukraine in the month after the Russian invasion. The war and the resulting refugee crisis not only threatened to reshape Europe’s geopolitical landscape and plunge the world into a new Cold War, they also upended the lives of millions of Ukrainians who, overnight, were forced to give up their homes, professions and families to try to find safety.
Reporter Yuliya Talmazan and photographer Jacobia Dahm traveled with a handful of Ukrainian families after they fled the war and embarked on a 15-hour train journey from the Polish town of Przemyśl to the German capital, Berlin.
Photography by Jacobia Dahm
CPS workers search millions of homes a year. A mom who resisted paid a price.
Child protective service agencies inspect the homes of roughly 3.5 million children annually. Only about 5% are ultimately found to have been physically or sexually abused.
Photography by Stephanie Mei-Ling for NBC News and ProPublica
Spiraling costs and crumbling public services leave millions in Britain struggling to live
NBC News spent a week in the seaside town of Morecambe, speaking with dozens of people about the real costs of this story of Western poverty.
Photography by Susannah Ireland
The internet’s meth underground, hidden in plain sight
Regular meth users say online platforms have fundamentally changed the experience of using, worsening parts of an already blazing global meth addiction problem.
Illustration by Ibrahim Rayintakath
In Uvalde, a community of deep Latino roots is further bound by grief
The predominantly Hispanic city with a rich Mexican American history is grappling with the need for support, “because these families need it.”
Photography by Liz Moskowitz
Family trees fill in the gaps for Black people seeking their ancestral roots
Black people have been able to connect with the past and give new agency to their identities through building family trees and researching their family histories.
Illustration by Eliana Rodgers
One flood-ravaged Kentucky community is suing a coal company, saying its negligence made damage even worse
The plaintiffs allege that the failure of the companies’ silt ponds, aggravated by the mining operations’ damage to the land, led to the widespread destruction of their community.
Photography by Michael Swensen
Satanic panic is making a comeback, fueled by QAnon believers and GOP influencers
Baseless accusations are branding people as satanist pedophiles at the speed of the internet — just ask a GOP prosecutor who recently lost re-election.
Illustration by Bendik Kaltenborn
A new attorney helped clear an innocent man of a murder sentence after 32 years in prison
Natlie Figgers logged 2,000 hours working for free to exonerate Thomas Raynard James after misidentification and suspect police work sent him to prison in Florida.
Photography by Saul Martinez
Facebook’s rules ban promoting weapons. Some gun sellers are running ads anyway.
The Tech Transparency Project said in its report that it found 173 ads that it believes violate the apps’ ad policies by searching the apps’ online ad library over two weeks in August.
Illustration by Anuj Shrestha
Paradise lost: Inside Peru’s emergency zone
Illegal gold mining in southeastern Peru has fueled the destruction of a massive swath of rainforest and the killing of dozens of environmental activists.
Photography by Florence Goupil
‘It made me feel low’: Black students urge passage of Crown Act to end hair discrimination
The bill passed the House in March, but it does not have a clear path forward in the Senate.
Photography by Imani Khayyam
How mpox spoiled gay men’s plans for an invincible summer
Queer men across the U.S. talked to NBC News about the dates they never went on, the sex they never had and the gatherings they avoided due to the viral outbreak.
Illustration by Anjali Nair
Behind the BBL hype: Why one influencer regrets her ‘Brazilian butt lift’
In a murky regulatory system, med spas advertise BBLs on Instagram alongside influencer promotions. One patient detailed why they aren’t happy with their results.
Illustration by Lily Lambie-Kiernan
Meet those willing to spend at least 12 hours in line to say their final goodbyes to Queen Elizabeth
For the last time, loyal subjects wait to pay tribute to their beloved queen in a miles-long line that snakes through London.
Photography by Alice Zoo
A mother’s painful pursuit of justice: Inside a war crimes investigation in Ukraine
Olga Kotenko had to bury her son twice as war crimes investigators across the country work to hold Russian forces accountable for alleged atrocities.
Photography by Pete Kiehart
Why more Black people are looking for safety in gun ownership
A rise in hate crimes and anti-Black vitriol sparked a 58 percent increase in Black people purchasing firearms in 2020. The spike seems to have continued.
Photography by Peyton Fulford
Bitcoin investment simulator: Can you beat the market?
Workers may soon be able to put some of their retirement savings in bitcoin, but the crypto crash has made it clear what a risky bet it is. Use our tool to see how bumpy the ride’s been.
Illustration by Erik Carter
Has the obsession with Alabama #RushTok gone too far? Viewers don’t think so.
The rush-related TikToks, which featured aspiring sorority members documenting their journeys to getting a bid, garnered millions of views last year.
Illustration by Bea Oyster
What’s that bag of white stuff? Some Uber drivers worry they’re drug mules
While it’s not clear how often drugs are an issue for Uber’s package delivery service, it’s a hot topic in online forums for drivers.
Illustration by Ibrahim Rayintakath
Teens were sent to Wyoming ranches for therapy. They say they found a nightmare of hard labor and humiliation.
Two Christian programs are accused of forcing troubled teens to do heavy farm work. One man says he was branded with a cross. Three women say they were tied to a goat as a punishment.
Photography by Will Crooks
Major U.S. police departments plagued by officer-on-officer sexual abuse and retaliation
An NBC News review of more than 60 lawsuits costing taxpayers more than $40 million found disturbing accounts of sexual misconduct against female cops in big-city departments.
Photography by Natalie Keyssar
‘We say gay’: Florida’s largest Pride parade draws hundreds of thousands
It was St. Petersburg’s first LGBTQ Pride march since the onslaught of the Covid pandemic, and it comes just three months after Florida’s governor signed what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Photography by Melody Timothee
Disinformation via text message is a problem with few answers
While there’s now a cottage industry and federal agencies that target election disinformation when it’s on social media, there’s no comparable effort for texts.
Illustration by Shira Inbar
Texas shooting leaves Sandy Hook survivors with anger, grief and a personal sense of failure
“It’s a horrible burden to bear," said a teacher in Newtown, Connecticut, who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
Photography by Sarah Wilmer
Art direction and photo editing:
Kara Haupt, Zara Katz, Chelsea Stahl, Max Butterworth, Anthony Correia, Shahrzad Elghanayan, Marc J. Franklin, Adrian Lam, Julius Motal, Matt Nighswander, Elise Wrabetz, Anjali Nair and Justine Goode