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You Can Give To This Artist's Campaign To Poster D.C. With Trump/'They Live' Billboards

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 26, 2017 9:40PM


Like Idiocracy and A Face in The Crowd, John Carpenters' cult classic They Live (1988), a comedy-horror dystopia about media manipulation and shapeshifting authoritarianism, seemed to carry a renewed prescience for many in the run-up to Donald Trump's election. Mitch O'Connell, a celebrated "lowbrow" artist (if you'll forgive the contradiction) based in Chicago, was among the many graphic artists who couldn't help but notice the irresistible symmetry between Trump and Carpenter's sci-fi iconography. But apparently only Mitchell is brave enough to take the design to the president's doorstep.

Mitchell—whose work has been featured in the likes of the New York Times and been well lauded on the national stage—is crowdfunding his mission to bring his own They Live Trump image to as many Washington, D.C. billboards as he can. His GoFundMe campaign launched one day ago. It's already raised more than $1,300.

"I've been drawing since I was three and making a living at art since I was 17. And [this design] is by far the most popular," O'Connell told Chicagoist. "I'm sure it's due to the hair and the craziness of the personality," he deadpanned.


O'Connell—who personally made the Trump-They Live connection back in 2015 when he was creating art for the annual 24-hour "Massacre" movie marathon—has a goal set for $10,000. That takes into account the costs of a two-month billboard rental (10’ 5” by 22’ 8”) plus production fees, based on Clear Channel Outdoor's pricing model, he said. "Whatever we raise after the 30-day fundraiser, I'll see what I can get," O'Connell said. He hopes to have something realized within 60 days.

O'Connell said he was moved to create the design and pursue the billboard lark as his perception of Trump shifted. He was once a big fan of Celebrity Apprentice and enjoyed Trump's peculiar mannerisms while Donald "lapped up" so much fawning contestant reaction. "It was a bit crazy and interesting. But that craziness as a president doesn’t make much of America sleep peacefully at night."

He did however stress the comical aspect of his mission. "The goal is just to have some fun fun, maybe with some social commentary thrown in." Not unlike They Live, we'd say. Or perhaps Carpenter himself, who O'Connell said in the past had expressed fondness for his mash-up.

As for the logistical feasibility, we'll have to see how it shakes out. According to Clear Channel's standards, the company can "reject creative content that... in any way reflects upon the character, integrity, or standing of any organization or individual." A Clear Channel representative did not immediately reply when to asked if O'Connell's design would pose an issue. Regardless, O'Connell is open to exploring all avenues.

And he's also hopeful it just might spur some elected representatives from their sclerosis. "It's one more reminder that we’d like you to do something positive, and make government function," he said.