It’s so deliciously petty, and Charles Leazott couldn’t be more tickled.
The 46-year-old graphic designer from Virginia — the man behind the Trump-trolling presidential seal that's grabbing headlines this week — spoke out for the first time since his old artwork, custom-made to express his loathing for the 45th president, appeared with the commander-in-chief himself on Tuesday.
The seal, featuring a two-headed bird commonly associated with Russia’s coat of arms, with a wad of cash in its right claw, a set of golf clubs in its left, and a banner with the phrase “45 is a puppet” scrolled across it in Spanish, was projected on stage during Trump’s appearance at the Turning Point USA Teen Student Action Summit in Washington on Tuesday. He spoke for 80 minutes with the seal, big as life, on the wall behind him, but no one noticed (or mentioned) it till way after the event.
“It’s just something I tossed together,” Leazott told the Washington Post. “This was just a goofy thing for some people I knew. I had no idea it would blow up like this.”
Leazott said he created the artwork in 2017, shortly after Trump was elected. He once considered himself a proud Republican and said he voted for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004. But since the rise of Trump in 2016, Leazott has distanced himself from the party and has used his art as a way to channel his disillusionment with the GOP’s new direction.
Though he created the seal two years ago, he said that it was always one of his personal favorites.
“This is the most petty piece of art I have ever created,” he told the Washington Post.
Just a few hours after the seal was discovered, Turning Point USA announced that they found out who was responsible for the goof-up at its event for young conservatives. Though they determined that the seal was selected by a staffer in a botched last-minute Google search, they fired the individual anyway.
“It was nothing malicious,” the spokesperson said Thursday. “Just an accident.”
Leazott isn’t buying it.
“That’s a load of crap,” he told the Washington Post. “You have to look for this. There’s no way this was an accident, is all I’m saying.”
Leazott’s image is now in great demand: Thursday afternoon, shirts featuring the now infamous logo sold out on the online apparel site Inktale. The graphic designer has since launched his own online storefront where he’s selling shirts, mugs, hats and more that feature the fake seal as well as other resistance artwork. According to the website, 10% of the profits will be donated to the ACLU.
Though he’s capitalizing on the viral moment, Leazott’s greater satisfaction comes from the fact his artwork made it on stage with the guy he loathes so much.
“It’s cool people are buying this, that’s great and all,” he told the Washington Post. “But I’ve got to be honest: I am so tickled in the most petty way possible that the president of the United States, who I despise, stood up and gave a talk in front of this graphic. Whoever put that up is my absolute hero.”
Cover: President Donald Trump arrives to speak, with an altered presidential seal behind him, at Turning Point USA's Teen Student Action Summit 2019, Tuesday, July 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)