SVA Faculty Member Edel Rodriguez's Fiery and Furious Political Satire
January 25, 2018
by Rodrigo Perez
Called "America’s Illustrator-in-chief" by Fast Company and "Trump’s Most Hated Artist" by the Hollywood Reporter, renowned designer and SVA BFA Illustration faculty member Edel Rodriguez is everywhere at the moment and has become the visual thorn in the side of the president of the United States. Whether depicting the controversial commander-in-chief as a tantrum-prone toddler in full meltdown mode, a devolving ape, or in charge of a presidency going up in flames, Rodriguez has emerged as one of Donald Trump's harshest and most vivid critics.
While the Cuban American artist, who is also a children's book author, works in a wide range of mediums and styles—conceptual, portraiture and landscape—it's his striking and fiery political skewerings that have won him greater acclaim in recent years. More precisely, Rodriguez’s notoriety has taken off since Trump’s divisive political career began. His now-iconic "Meltdown." cover for Time magazine’s August 2016 issue may have incorrectly predicted the failure of the then-candidate's unpredictable and divisive campaign, but Rodriguez's stripped-down image of a melting Trump head struck a chord, and the illustrator has been recruited to do variations of the caricature—orange skin, ridiculous hair, childish outbursts—in publications around the world ever since. His work has graced the covers of Germany's Der Spiegel, the U.K.'s New Statesman and Brazil's Epoca. He's also created arresting viral art for the recent women's marches (examples here, here and here).
Recently, to mark the anniversary of Trump’s volatile first year in office, Rodriguez was enlisted again by Time to create their January 2018 "Year One" cover. And when Fire and Fury, journalist Michael Wolff’s just-released book on the new administration, made headlines around the world, Rodriguez hijacked the cover—literally. Widely derided for its poor jacket design, Rodriguez stole the moment, offering an alternative cover that transformed into a viral sensation.
An unsparing critic of the Trump administration and its policies, the illustrator relishes in knowledge that the president, widely reported to keep close tabs on his media coverage, is seeing his work on the regular. "[The president] loves Time," he recently told Fast Company. "That's my main pleasure, knowing that these people are looking at it and it's ruining their day."
Rodriguez has already amassed enough Trump-related art for an exhibition, titled "Agent Orange," which opens tonight, January 25, at Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Oregon, with an opening reception at 5:30pm (PST). More information here. And to keep up with his latest and greatest work, make sure to follow Rodriguez on Twitter.