That Time I Created a Viral Twitter Account
i’m the president and i like to draw — @TrumpDraws
Minutes after creating the “Trump Draws” twitter account Monday night, I rose to 10 followers, thanks to a retweet posted on my personal account, @SnoopMikey. Not too bad for a stupid little idea — this will be a great place to post my over-simplistic, childish, FUNNY, presidential doodle GIFs. Before I went to bed, The Donald drew a house and a kat.
When I woke up the next morning, I had over 8,000 followers.
I was gaining thousands every minute.
@TrumpDraws soon reached 100k followers on day 1.
A week later, the silly drawings account had over 350k.
I’m not exactly sure how the initial wildfire started, but Day 1 was filled with top posts on reddit, interviews with news outlets, and thousands of internet “influencers” (aka celebrities) liking, following, and retweeting my doodles all over the place.
Here’s a sampling of some of the news articles/interviews that featured @TrumpDraws:
- Meet TrumpDraws, the viral Twitter sensation starring the president’s finest crayon drawings (Washington Post)
- Meet The Man Behind The Hilarious “Trump Draws” Twitter Account (Buzzfeed)
- The parody accounts that make Twitter bearable in the era of Trump (Mashable)
- ‘Trump Draws’ Hilariously Mocks President Signing Executive Orders (Huffington Post)
- ‘Trump Draws’ Twitter Account Turns President Into Doodling Toddler (New York Magazine)
- Donald Trump signing order photo sparks hilarious meme (The Telegraph)
- Trump Draws parody account mocks president’s art skills (CNET)
- Twitter account imagines Trump sharing fun artwork instead of awful executive orders (A.V. Club)
- ‘Trump Draws’ is the best new way to mock the president’s ‘Travel Ban’ (Daily Mirror)
I was also interviewed on BBC World Service Newsday. Live on the radio via Skype from Los Angeles at 3:30am and 6:30am, talking about my silly doodles was sandwiched between correspondents from the front lines and parliamentary discussions about Brexit. Listen to a snippet here
Question and Answers!
Where did you come up with the idea?
Honestly, out of the blue. I was watching the news one night and they were covering Trump’s recent executive orders. Each time he signs one, he holds it up to the press with such a proud look on his face, like he wanted his mom and dad to like it. “Oh, Donald that’s amazing — such a great job son!” despite how terrible the drawing or how divisive the executive order. The idea of a kid showing off his school work popped in my head.
How do you make them?
I’ve worked as a visual effects artist for film & TV for several years and get paid to put fake things on real images, so I knew I already had the tools for this — Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. The hardest part is tracking the motion of the paper and making the drawing stick realistically. After Effects comes with an amazing piece of software called mocha that dramatically reduces the amount of work needed to track flat surfaces. With some tweaks to lighting and blurring, the effect is pretty darn realistic. It’s even fooled some to believe that Donald Trump actually drew a stick figure of himself, of course highlighting his large hands. Both of these things aren’t true.
Drawing the doodles is actually pretty tricky. I’m naturally not a good drawer (that helps), but adults draw a lot better than little kids. So it takes a lot of trial and error to make it look authentic. Sometimes I use my non-dominant hand or hold my pen at a weird angle to get wobbly lines. I’ve been paying particular attention to the way letters look in words, randomly shifting from upper-case to lower-case. And, of course, he’s not the best speller.
Where do you come up with your drawing ideas?
The simpler the drawing, the bigger response. If the idea is that these are kids drawings, they need to be something a kid would actually draw. I shy away from being overly political or making fun of people. Kids draw flowers, animals, trucks, etc. That’s what makes it funny.
Do you have a political agenda?
Not really. It’s pretty clear President Trump has made some decisions his first weeks in office that are highly controversial to people — not just in the United States, but the entire world. His actions speak for themselves. I’m just being silly and not trying to offend. In fact, I think it’s pretty cool to get responses like these all the time:
Some Random Observations
It’s hard to keep up with the response, but the Engage app by Twitter does a great job of filtering out follows/likes/retweets from verified users. Helps track down spikes in activity. Also has great analytics:
I’ve opened up direct messages on the account and @TrumpDraws receives some pretty interesting messages throughout the day:
No idea! Let’s see what happens! I never thought this would become a thing, let alone a thing that has over 400k followers. I’m blown away by the response and happy people like the GIFs. I’m pretty sure the joke will get old pretty fast, but as long as I get responses like this:
Trump will keep drawing.