Fire and Fury, the new tell-all detailing President Trump’s rollercoaster first year in the White House by journalist Michael Wolff, will surely go down as the hottest book of 2018. After several explosive excerpts appeared online, the book’s publisher pushed forward the publication date, and since then Fire and Fury has been topping bestseller lists while igniting a national conversation about Trump’s mental state. The publisher can’t print them fast enough.
But the book has some problems, as many have observed, and one of them has nothing to do with Trump: the cover. The book’s title and author name is set in a strangely angular serif font called Union, with all-caps Helvetica as the subtitle. The type is a mix of red and blue, floating against a white backdrop–an oddly patriotic palette, given the book’s contents (it recalls the bad design of the Trump campaign’s logo). To top it all off, the typography frames an unflattering photo of Trump that could have been pulled from a Google search. The design is as crude and as mystifying as one of Trump’s 4 a.m. tweets.
But why did they have to make the Fire and Fury book cover on Microsoft Word? pic.twitter.com/yEheFgntZH
— Orli Matlow (@HireMeImFunny) January 5, 2018
The cover for Fire and Fury BS is the worst book cover ever! Nobody designs cover's any more I guess pic.twitter.com/Ji8VqiwEcL
— Carol D. Mitchell (@suzy1493) January 5, 2018
— David M Grome (@DavidMGrome) January 6, 2018
So the visual artist and designer Edel Rodriguez decided to take matters into his own hands and create an alternative cover. “I felt the original cover was very flat and simple, considering the huge cultural moment the publication of this book was going to become,” Rodriguez tells Co.Design in an email. “I felt there was more that could have been done with it. It truly feels like a rough mockup or a self-published book you might find on Amazon, not something that rose to the occasion.”
Drawing from previous art he made for magazines like Time, Der Spiegel, and The New York Times (including one that might be the most iconic image of the 2016 election), Rodriguez imagined a graphic caricature of Trump’s face, with the words Fire and Fury replacing his eyes and nose. The president’s face is orange (of course) and his hair looks like it’s on fire–a visual echo of the book’s title that also points to Wolff’s descriptions of a chaotic White House in the election’s aftermath.
Esteemed graphic designer Michael Bierut had the ultimate compliment for Rodriguez’s work, referencing the great French political caricaturist:
Edel Rodriguez is the Honoré Daumier of our time https://t.co/S4uxxvGAEY
— Michael Bierut (@michaelbierut) January 7, 2018
Rodriguez’s cover has gone viral, with thousands retweeting it. Others have also created their own collages–CNN reporter Hunter Schwartz included a few in his newsletter, though they mostly look like poor Photoshop jobs (one is a collage of Trump’s face and fire–very creative).
As for the original, perhaps the poor design was deliberate, as the blog Fonts in Use pointed out: “All capitals, and in your face, with the only possible color combination, a case could be made for it almost looking rushed. Then again, that is most likely the point: echoing the raw immediacy and faux-outsider aesthetics that underlined Trump’s entire campaign.”
How would you design a cover for 2018’s biggest book? Send your redesigned cover ideas to CoDTips@fastcompany.com, or tweet at us.