I am often baffled by the amount of time I have spent staring at Donald Trump’s face.
As a graphic designer, Photoshop is both my playmate and my business partner. When I worked in the ad world, my days often consisted of stitching together compiled stock images into scenes—elaborate storyboards made to convince consumers to try the newest lunchtime snack or platinum-level credit card. And while I found the premise of most ads to be tiresome, the variety of storylines at least kept things interesting. I was, admittedly, quite naive about what shifting from advertising to news design in the Trump era would entail, but after nearly two years at Mother Jones here is what I know: I severely underestimated the sheer volume of hours I would log navigating every crease, every hair, every pore of Donald J. Trump, pixel by tangerine pixel.
Now, the almost daily task of Photoshopping Trump has not come without the occasional perks. There were the times I got to copy edit his face into devil horns, toss him into a tornado, or turn him into an astrologer. It’s certainly been a good mental exercise in all the visual solutions available for the problem of TRUMP + EVIL. And while you’d be hard pressed to find his body in any position other than sitting, screaming, or golfing, I must say that his snarls and scowls rival those of most villains. The Donald may be a horrific commander-in-chief, but villain is a part that face was born to play.
However, I do not relish the fact that I know Trump’s moods so well that I can pinpoint which types of events I should search to find the correct facial expressions (MAGA rallies are generally the only place to source an emotion other than boredom or disgust). There are times I worry I can read his moods better than my own. And while I appreciate the Photoshop skill-building required to maintain the appropriate, let’s say, transparency of his coiffed mane, I take no joy in intimately knowing the contours of the man’s ears. That secret geography should remain between Trump and whatever God still bothers to answer. Cataloging the utter atrocities committed by this administration and its bronzed leader is heavy enough, without having to determine where his chin ends and his neck starts every day.
But there’s potentially a new septuagenarian on the horizon for my Pen Tool and me. New wrinkles to cut around, new age spots to maneuver. The sweet relief of a boring subject feels just around the corner. —Grace Molteni