President Trump never looked so good.
“Shove It,” self-published online, fall 2017, in response to Trump’s attacks on NFL football players who chose to “take a knee” to protest racial injustice. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
Orange isn’t a favorite color of artist Edel Rodriguez. But since Donald Trump became president, the prolific illustrator has seen a lot of it.
One year into Trump’s presidency and Rodriguez has been tapped to create editorial artwork of “the Orange One” for many major publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, Time magazine, and Germany’s Der Spiegel.
His style is simple, yet brilliant, and he wields his sharp wit like a weapon, whether he’s depicting Twitter bombs, Trump scouts, or even Donald and Kim Jong Un comparing the size of their missiles.
The Cuban American artist’s latest works are on display at Wieden+Kennedy Creative Agency in Portland, Oregon. Below, Rodriguez shares the stories behind some of his greatest hits.
“America First” published by Der Spiegel magazine, February 2017. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“A version of this image was originally made in response to the Muslim travel ban. I took an image I had made a year earlier of an ISIS terrorist and simply pasted Trump’s head on the terrorist’s body and added the beheaded Statue of Liberty dangling from his hand. I felt that Trump had become an extremist, killing the dream of what America had always stood for: a beacon to millions of immigrants and refugees seeking shelter and a better life in America.”
“I posted the image on my social media feeds, and it immediately reverberated. It was shared and retweeted thousands of times. About a week later, Der Spiegelmagazine contacted me about creating an image on the travel ban. While I was working on new sketches, the art director perused my Twitter account for ideas, found the image I had made, and asked if they could publish it. They simply asked if I could take out the ISIS robe and substitute it with Trump’s suit, so that the figure would be more recognizable. When Der Spiegel shared their cover online, it ricocheted all over the internet. The story was immediately covered by hundreds of print, cable, and online news outlets worldwide. The next day, before the actual cover was on the newsstand, many signs with this image began to appear at protests worldwide. This controversial image created multiple discussions about immigration, free speech, and America’s, standing in the world.”
“Deadly Game,” published by Der Spiegel magazine, 2017. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“During a week of back and forth nuclear threats and insults between Trump and Kim Jong Un, I proposed this image as a cover to Der Spiegel. The magazine changed their plans for the week just to publish it on the cover. It shows a couple of toddlers, in diapers, riding a nuclear bomb at the playground, the headline on the cover said ‘Todesspiel,’ [which translates loosely to] ‘Deadly Game’ in German. When published, the cover reverberated throughout the world. Without speaking German, readers understood the message.”
“Year One,” published by Time magazine, January 2018.
“‘Year One’ [was] a cover commissioned by Time magazine that would encapsulate the first year of Trump’s presidency and hint at the publishing of the book Fire and Fury. I envisioned a lit match and a wildfire, jumping from one hill to another, full of rage and destruction, with people in its path trying to contain the damage.”
“Shithole,” self-published online and disseminated for street posters. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“This one is based on Trump’s comments about immigration from ‘shithole countries.’”
“Age of Fire and Fury,” published by Der Spiegel magazine, January 2018. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“I created this image in May 2017 and never published it anywhere, thinking the time was not right yet. After the book “Fire and Fury” was published, which details Trump’s nasty, brutish, and uncultured behavior, the idea of a reverse evolution, how mankind has devolved to the state we are in with this president, seemed appropriate. I sent it to Der Spiegel, and they agreed. They published it on their cover that week.”
“Miss Russia,” self-published online, 2017. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“A family member was upset at me for having shown the president naked in another image, the one titled ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ So I took the same image and covered him up, alluding to the Russian scandal that had just made the news while dressing him in the same swimsuit and heels he made his beauty pageant contestants wear while they competed at his Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”
“Dirty Bombs,” published by Epoca magazine in Brazil, January 2018. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“For a cover on how Trump’s use of Twitter to attack the press in the United States has emboldened despots overseas to do the same.”
“Total Meltdown,” published by Time magazine, October 2016. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.
“[It was] two months after ‘the meltdown.’ The ‘Access Hollywood’ tapes surfaced, in which Trump was quoted as saying, most notably, that he grabs women ‘by the pussy.’ This seemed the end; not only of Trump’s campaign but of the prospects for the entire Republican party’s election chances. The first idea was to show the GOP elephant logo melting down, which I did. That image was set to be published, until two hours before printing, when I received a call to reprise the graphics and success of the first ‘Meltdown’ cover. I finished this image in record time, and once it was published, it was shared widely yet again. This cover received the Cover of the Year award from ASME, the American Society of Magazine Editors.”
“Flammable,” self-published online, 2017, and later published on the cover of New Statesmanmagazine in the U.K. in January 2018. Image courtesy of Edel Rodriguez.