In August 2015, Mitch O’Connell, a freelance artist based in Chicago, created a poster design meant to parody classic 80s horror movie They Live. The poster was used to advertise "The Massacre," a 24-hour horror movie marathon, but eventually the design took on new life.
The poster featured President Donald Trump with seemingly no skin, save for blue and red tissues and cartilage. O’Connell says that the design became the most popular design he has ever drawn with protest signs featuring the image along with bootleg items on Amazon. It was also seen on the cover of the UK news magazine, The Big Issue.
In order to bring new life to the design, O’Connell has started a GoFundMe campaign in order to raise funds to build billboards in front of the White House with the design in front of an American flag and the words, “Make America Great Again.”
By the time of this article’s publication, roughly $1,400 was raised, under the $10,000 goal. According to O’Connell, renting one month of a 10’ 5” by 22’ 8” billboard costs $850, plus a production fee of $225 every 60 days.
“I’ve always loved outside art ... I love the concept of one morning you wake up, and there’s this big piece of artwork Downtown,” said O’Connell, who further added, “If I did any image that people would want to get around or want a good laugh or a good head scratcher, this would be the piece.”
The movie, They Live, was directed by John Carpenter, the same director behind Halloween. In it, alien invaders disguise their features and intermingle with humans. O’Connell’s parody poster of the movie isn’t the first to feature a U.S. president. There have also been versions of Ronald Reagan.
While the movie is about complacency and subliminal messages, O’Connell said, “My intention is not to offend. My intention is to just add a little levity of this obviously silly parody. So, I don’t foresee anybody really getting up in arms because there is no cruel intent on my part. It’s just good-natured ribbing.”
The billboards are expected to be installed in under two months’ time.
O’Connell’s artworks have been inspired by comics, pin-ups, and sideshows and have been featured everywhere from Newsweek to Rolling Stone to The New Yorker. They have also been utilized in advertising campaigns for major companies from McDonalds and Coca-Cola.
• Trump Lives! [GoFundMe]