Throughout his career, graphic artist Edel Rodriguez has created hundreds of newspaper and magazine covers for clients such as TIME Magazine, Der Spiegel and The New Yorker. Hailed for his powerful social and political commentary, he is perhaps best known for his critical illustrations of Donald Trump, many of which have become ubiquitous on social media over the past few years. Earlier this month — as news broke of Trump’s historic felony conviction in New York — Edel did it again: catching the world’s attention with a striking new cover design for TIME Magazine.

Set to release on 24 June, the artwork was first launched to readers on X (formerly known as Twitter). It depicts a gavel in action, coming down hard on a soundblock that resembles a caricature of Trump’s orange face. Like so much of Edel’s work, the image is brimming with a sense of urgency and mischief, and is instantly recognisable thanks to his use of color, texture and composition. Almost immediately, the post sparked conversation between fans and critics alike, and within days it had amassed nearly a million views.

Speaking about the motivation behind his work, Edel has said that he likes to treat magazine covers as posters — as “something that makes you think, or that makes you become active.” In today’s hyperpolitical times, he believes that artists and journalists have a responsibility to speak the truth, and not to skirt the sensitive issues.

As Edel explains in a recent interview: “That’s why magazines have become a bit more political or more with a point of view — they have to confront these things. We saw what happened with Trump when you say, ‘Well, they have a point of view and we have a point of view, let’s just show both sides.’ I think it’s a horrible way to do things, I’m sorry. And I’m not a crazy left-wing person — I was born in Cuba, I left communism, I’m not a socialist. So I am in this middle ground, but there are some things that you just can’t be neutral about.”

On storytelling and the art of dissent

On 5 July, Edel will join the main stage programme at the 12th edition of WDCD Live in Amsterdam. Alongside fellow rabble-rousers like Clive Russell (Extinction Rebellion) and Samar Maakaroun (Pentagram), he will share his take on the changing role of creative protest, and how visual storytelling can move people towards social and climate justice. Edel will also look back on some of the key pieces in his body of work, from his commissions and exhibitions, to his graphic memoir Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey, which was published in 2023.

Want to join us at WDCD Live Amsterdam 2024? To learn more about the programme and tickets, click here.

All images courtesy Edel Rodriguez.