Trump's 'Year One' ignites on the cover of Time

Dylan Stableford
·Senior Writer
Time covers depicting Donald Trump as both candidate and president. (Courtesy of Time magazine)
Time covers depicting Donald Trump as both candidate and president. (Courtesy of Time magazine)

President Donald Trump, whose desk in his Trump Tower office holds stacks of magazine cover stories about him, was Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2016. The president clearly believed that he deserved it again last year — but says he refused to sit for a photo shoot unless he was guaranteed to be chosen. (The magazine ended up selecting “The Silence Breakers” as its “Person of the Year.”)

Trump has to settle for the cover of the Jan. 22 issue, which will be released on Friday. Rather than a flattering photograph, it bears a caricature by artist Edel Rodriguez of a miniature Trump beneath a giant yellow conflagration of hair and has just two words: “Year One.”

The story inside is both an account of Trump’s explosive first year in office and the White House reaction to Michael Wolff’s devastating portrait of the administration, “Fire and Fury.”

The drawing is the third in a series of covers Rodriguez has done in minimalist primary colors, reducing the presidential physiognomy to an orange-and-yellow blob. Time first used the emoji-like drawing during Trump’s turbulent 2016 campaign, attaching the word “Meltdown” to the Aug. 22, 2016, issue. It did so again two months later, declaring Trump’s candidacy a “Total Meltdown” for its Oct. 14, 2016, issue.

“Part of what I was trying to do was establish this brand, that I can do anything to this image and you can see it anywhere and it just reminds you, ’Oh wow, that guy’s making that again, I should pay attention,’” Rodriguez told the magazine. “It’s sort of like an anti-branding campaign, where you’re branding something so that people recognize it and kind of critique it strongly.”

Trump, of course, prevailed in the election, and he landed on the cover of the Nov. 22, 2016, issue of Time as “president-elect” and again in December of that year, when Time magazine declared him “president of the divided states of America” in naming him “Person of the Year.”

In November 2017, Time used Rodriguez for another Trump cover in which the artist depicted his Trump blobs as wrecking balls wreaking havoc in Washington, D.C.

That same month, the president said that the magazine informed him that he would “probably” be named “Person of the Year” again but that he “would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot.”

“I said probably is no good and took a pass,” the president tweeted.

Following the publication of “Fire and Fury,” Rodriguez did a mock version of the cover he would have created for Wolff’s book, and the image went viral.

“I thought it was going to be for my friends on Twitter, like an exercise,” he said. “And it’s the most retweeted image I’ve ever done.”

For his latest Time cover, Rodriguez said the concept was straightforward.

“We used to live where the United States was a pretty steady country, and now you wake up every day and try to figure out where’s the next fire, where do we have to go, what do we have to try to contain,” he told Time. “It’s sort of this president that you’re always trying to contain, like a wildfire that’s moving from one place to the other at all times.”

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