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Edel Rodriguez – Time Cover Illustrator

edel year oneDonald Trump first appeared on the cover of Time in 1989 and, over the years, he’s had a love/hate relationship with the magazine.

He famously hanged fake covers with fake headlines in four of his golf clubs.

These days, President Trump regularly makes the cover but often in a striking, stylized form  — which seems to perfectly capture the political moment.

The latest issue shows Trump mouth open, his hair a raging inferno and the headline: “Year One.”

Edel Rodriguez is the man responsible for that cover and many others. He’s described as the preeminent illustrator of the Trump era.

He joined “CNN Newsroom Los Angeles” and spoke to John Vause about his art.

Vause: “It seems you have this very unique eye when it comes to President Donald Trump. One of the covers you’ve drawn seems to be a progression of that total meltdown from October of last year. Tell me what’s going on?”

edel trump meltdown

Rodriguez: “I think, at this point, we’ve already seen what damage he can do with it. Before it was a possibility. At this point, it almost feels like a wildfire where he’s just jumping from one place to another to another and people are just going after him trying to tamp down these flames — and that’s where the idea came to me… this sort of fire that’s out of control and everybody was trying to control it but he and his own staff can’t control it at times.”

edel total meltdown

Vause: “These are very simple images that you are drawing. There’s no facial features. Unlike other illustrators you don’t mock Trump’s physical features. I remember back in August of last year, Der Spiegel used an image that you’d drawn of Donald Trump. He was a Klan member — which was a very harsh criticism of the President. Many were surprised that it would actually turn up on the front cover of a magazine.”

Rodriguez: “Yeah, that Klan image was something that I made, as well. But I think you have to look at the context. That was published a week after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Trump defended neo-Nazis and Klan members as people that were just on the other side. There were two sides to the story.  I don’t think that any President of the United States should be defending neo-Nazis in any way, whatsoever, or Ku Klux Klan members. I think at that point, when you have someone who defends racism to that degree, at some point you start to think, ‘Well, maybe they’re racist.’ And I think that’s the case here.”

der spigel klan

edel libertyVause: “These images go viral, it seems, every time they make the cover of Time or Der Spiegel. Are you surprised that they’ve been so widely received and  have, essentially, caused so much buzz? Because there was one very controversial cover, it was also for Der Spiegel. It was the President cutting off the head of the Statue of Liberty. Did that go too far?”

Rodriguez: “No. I don’t think it went too far, at all. I think I was trying to get the point across that we have a President who I believe was killing what I think is the American dream. Part of the American dream is to come to this country, create a life — a better life for your children. This country has always been a country of immigrants. And with the policies that are being put forth, right now, I think that this idea that there is an American dream and people can come here and live a better life — I think it’s over for many people in the world. I’m a college professor and can you imagine people from around the world that would want to send their children here now to go to college or to go to school? I think that there’s a lot of people who are afraid to do that and I think that’s a shame. Because, in my mind as an immigrant, this country has always been a beacon to the world and that is changing in many people’s minds right now.”

Written and produced by Ben Bamsey, John Vause and Alexandra Meeks — with help from Ashley Davis for “CNN Newsroom L.A.”

edel Finger

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