How an Art Director’s Frustration Fueled the Curiously Creative Instagram Feed ‘Trump as Food’

The project has become increasingly subtle

It all started with a simple Cheeto. Instagram: @trumpasfood
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Agency creatives famously maintain all sorts of side projects, from a collection of fonts mimicking late rock stars’ handwriting to a book based on an Instagram account summarizing millennial life.

These efforts tend to get political (as so many things do these days), and ad folk have been weighing in on Donald J. Trump since well before he won the presidency in 2016. Over the past two years, anti-Trump passion projects have been too frequent count—and that’s not including real ads from brands like Smirnoff and Reebok designed to poke fun at our president.

One art director took a slightly different tack, creating an entire Instagram account dedicated to showcasing images of Trump reimagined as different orange food items. The creator of @trumpasfood spoke to AdFreak on condition of anonymity, though even steadfast supporters of the president might grudgingly admit her work is amusing and visually inventive.

Who elected this cheato

A post shared by Trump As Food (@trumpasfood) on

AdFreak: What was your inspiration for this project? Was it something related to a client pitch or just the concept of Trump as a Cheeto?
Trump As Food: This project started a while ago when Trump first got elected. I felt so helpless and angry at a system that let us down so hard. So that night, as I was watching Trump win and stuffing my face with sad fries from a place called Chubby Burgers down the street, I drew Cheeto Trump. There were a lot of jokes about him being orange and comparing him to a Cheeto, so I made my version of it.

I really wish I could tell you it was for some cool client pitch … to be honest, I really didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. The drawing sat on my computer for a really long time, but then every time Trump said something awful, I started making new illustrations. I know these little Trumps won’t change anything in the real world, but it makes me feel a little better to throw some digs at him (mostly in the form of bad puns), and I hope it makes other people feel better too.

It’s too bad this guy is peppered with stupidity

A post shared by Trump As Food (@trumpasfood) on

What made you decide to continue working on it?
I really needed a creative outlet and something that was just for me. I used to paint a lot when I was younger, but who has the space to keep art supplies in NYC? I barely have enough space for real furniture. So now I guess I’m turning Trump into orange foods.

I’m also doing this project because it lets me try out new illustration styles, which is pretty cool. I’m still trying to find my own style, so it’s been nice learning different techniques and being inspired by other artists. I’m obsessed with those progress videos where people do a time-lapse of how they created their posts. I’m always learning new/faster ways of doing things from people on Instagram and I don’t have to spend 50 years trying to get through a video. Everyone is so talented and friendly and we trade stickers and share dreams of turning side-gigs into full-time jobs.

Has it become a sort of catharsis for you?
Totally. I’ve been so angry with the whole Trump administration, and this was a good way to take out some of that anger. The past year or so has been hard, and it seems like something bad happens weekly. This project has been a way to respond to all of the crap in a completely meaningless way.

These next few years won’t be over easy

A post shared by Trump As Food (@trumpasfood) on

Looking at the evolution of the work, it definitely got more subtle (and less orange) as it went along. Now I feel like I have to almost search for his profile in each post.
That’s so perceptive of you, and I am very impressed. Basically at the beginning I had no idea what I was doing and I was just drawing his face on food. But as I started to do it more, I found it more interesting when they were optical illusions instead of obvious faces. There’s something cool about making people think about the post and look harder for him in the food. I also got tired of drawing his dumb face.

He ain’t treating us right so we should let this mango

A post shared by Trump As Food (@trumpasfood) on

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@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.