Just over a year ago, Brooklyn-based artist Tim O’Brien designed a cover for Time to reflect the beginning of Donald Trump's administration. The cover featured Trump sitting at a desk, with rain swirling around him and papers flying everywhere. "Nothing to See Here," it read. Now, O'Brien has reimagined that Trump Time cover for 2018.
The illustration on the April 23 cover of the magazine intends to describe the Trump administration as a "flood of breaking news," according to O'Brien. This time, the rain has evolved into a flood, and the caption simply reads, "Stormy."
“As the never-ending flood of breaking news washed over the White House, and the firings, the scandals and the general mayhem filled each news cycle, I felt the storm metaphor was as relevant as ever,” O'Brien told Time about the cover. “I mostly thought about how water would fill the space, how it would be transparent in some areas and reflective in others.”
To further emphasize the storm metaphor, Time released an animation of the cover, linked to a story with the following headline: "Donald Trump relied on Michael Cohen to weather the storm. Now the president is on his own." Michael Cohen is Trump's personal lawyer, and he is currently embroiled in a defamation lawsuit filed by adult film star Stormy Daniels. The FBI recently raided Cohen's office as part of an investigation into possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, according to The Hill. That the cover says "Stormy" seems to have more than one implication as a result, Mashable pointed out.
When O'Brien designed the original "Nothing to See Here" for Time last year, he wanted to capture the chaotic state of the beginning of Trump's administration — but he had no idea how long-term that chaos would be.
“When I painted the ‘Nothing to See Here’ cover art, like many, I assumed the level of chaos could not last, that patriots on both sides of the aisle would step forward to control much of what transpired in the past year,” O'Brien told Time. O'Brien has collaborated with the magazine for almost 30 years.
The story linked to the Time cover explores this chaos in detail, describing it as "a circus taking place around the most powerful person on earth." The story discusses Trump's comments on Syria, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the current administration's relationship with North Korea and China, and former FBI Director James Comey's upcoming book — and these are all just the tip of the iceberg, Time's Brian Bennett argues.
Trump has been confronted by scandal after scandal in the past year and a half, and yet continues to hold on to the presidency, but Bennett concludes the story by suggesting that the "Trump reality show appears closer than ever to colliding with reality itself."
According to Time, only six covers have been reimagined and republished in the 95 years that the magazine has been around, and O'Brien's Trump cover is one of them. Nonetheless, it's not the first time that Trump has been the subject of a reimagined Time cover. In 2016, graphic illustrator Edel Rodriguez designed two covers — captioned "meltdown" and "total meltdown" — featuring Trump. The first cover appeared to show an angry, melting Trump, while the second showed Trump melted into a puddle.
From allegations of affairs to an investigation into potential collusion with Russia, Trump has been facing scandals since before he even assumed the presidency. By following up O'Brien's initial cover with an even more chaotic one, Time appears to be suggesting that Trump's administration is drowning in scandal. This new cover, which is real and will soon appear in print, is likely one that he won't want to hang in his office.