Irreverent street artist Hanksy has a simple recipe for viral success. Step one: choose a pop culture symbol. Step two: select a divisive celebrity. Step three: mash them up. Then sit back and see your work go wild.
So it goes with “Dump Trump,” a piece he painted on a brick wall in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the summer of 2015. The combination of the all-too-familiar poop emoji (replete with flies) and Donald Trump’s irate, comb-over-topped mug was too good of a chance to pass up.
“That Donald Trump was a five-minute decision,” Hanksy told Business Insider. “I had wanted to paint something else there, and five minutes before I sketched this out and thought, let’s do that.”
So is it a joke, or is it a political statement?
“I’m just anti-Trump,” Hanksy said. “It’s not politics, it’s common sense.”
The image has become his most popular ever, with more than 8,000 likes on his personal Instagram. Called “Dump Trump” or “Tronald Dump” by fans, it’s plastered across Instagram; a search for “#hanksy” (which has almost 12,00 images) brings up a feed heavily populated with shots of the Trump art.
Hanksy says that he got at least 20,000 new Instagram followers in just two weeks after putting it up, and the image has been picked up and plastered on all kinds of unauthorised merchandise.
Hanksy believes it’s gone viral because street art is an entry point for millennials into what can be a confusing political process. It simplifies the message down to easily legible — and highly shareable — memes.
“Dump Trump” is certainly crystal clear.
On a drunken whim, he purchased 5,000 campaign buttons decorated with Dump Trump. He’s planning on heading to New Hampshire for the Republican primary this week, and will stir up whatever trouble he can (within the law, and within reason).
To Hanksy, this particular work is less about his own profile as an artist and much more about giving people a powerful image to put to use in the political process.
“I’ve always respected that the right image can sway someone. And I know this is a cartoon piece of imagery — when it comes down to it, it’s just a turd — but there are layers to it,” he said. “You never know what can take off, what can hit people and trigger things in someone.”
“I’m not a political group. I’m just one stupid kid from the Lower East Side who wants to get his image in the hands of people and let them run with it.”
And what about other street artists? A new “Dump Trump” piece recently popped up next to Trump Place in Manhattan, Vandalog reports.
The revolution may not be televised, but it may happen on Instagram.
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