Trump's tweet of the Space Force seal seemed to catch the Pentagon off guard

Just five minutes before President Trump shared the Space Force seal on Twitter, a USSF spokesperson told a reporter there was no official branding yet. Also in this week’s issue:

  • The Obama portraits are going on tour

  • The Senate impeachment trial, illustrated

  • Here’s a first look at the Trump app


P.S. We finally knows how all those bizarre illustrations for wikiHow get made. According to OneZero, a science and tech publication on Medium, they're made by freelance artists around the world but primarily in the Philippines, with pay as low as $.40 per image, according to one former artist who freelanced for the site in 2016.

Trump's tweet of the Space Force seal seemed to catch the Pentagon off guard

Just five minutes before Trump tweeted the official U.S. Space Force seal, a staff writer from Washingtonian was on the phone with a USSF spokesperson who said several possible seals were "being kicked around right now" and they were still in design and conceptual stages. 

"We don’t want to get too ahead—there’s nothing official," the spokesperson said, and he suggested branding could possibly come out in April after the 36th annual Space Symposium. Trump tweeted out the above logo five minutes after the call.

We don’t know who designed the USSF seal. Austin-based ad agency GSD&M — which did branding for the Air Force and was mentioned as a possible contender to design Space Force branding, per emails obtained by Yello last year through a FOIA request — told Yello it did not design the seal Trump tweeted.

Maj. Will Russell, a U.S. Space Force spokesperson, told Yello, “the President selected the United States Space Force seal from a number of seal options provided by the Department of the Air Force.”

Media coverage of the seal was predictable, with outlets publishing the same story with the same embedded tweets about how it looks similar to a “Star Trek” logo (I wrote here for membership subscribers how the seal uses design tropes that have been used for years in the U.S. and around the world to visually communicate space and flight). Out of stories I read at more than a dozen sites including CBS News, CNN, Fast Company, Fox Business, NPR, USA Today, and the Washington Post, I only saw one — the Verge — that referenced the Trump campaign fundraising off Space Force, by including a tweet from 2018 about the campaign monetizing the then-proposed branch.

The Department of Defense prohibits the use of military service marks for advertising or fundraising, and politicians who have used military symbols in their branding have been asked to stop. The Trump campaign has been selling Space Force merchandise in its campaign store for about year.

The Obama portraits are going on tour

Beginning in 2021, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald's portraits of the former first couple are taking a leave of absence from Washington, D.C.'s National Portrait Gallery, or NPG, and touring the U.S., with stops at museums in five cities. Here's the sched:

  • Art Institute of Chicago - June 18-Aug. 15, 2021⁠

  • Brooklyn Museum - Aug. 27-Oct. 24, 2021⁠

  • LACMA - Nov. 5, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022⁠

  • High Museum of Art (Atlanta) - Jan. 14-March 13, 2022⁠

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - March 25-May 30, 2022⁠

NPG director Kim Sajet told Artnet News she hadn't considered touring the portraits until Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak called a few weeks within the unveiling and asked whether they could be exhibited in Brooklyn. Before long, other museum directors as well as Sherald herself were reaching out asking if the paintings could tour.

"I remember Amy Sherald saying, ‘As a young girl in Atlanta, there was no way I could afford to go to Washington to see a work like that,'" Sajet said, and she soon reached out to other directors to set up the tour.

"Because of the attention the portraits brought to [NPG], so many people discovered Portrait Gallery for the first time,” she said. “They came to see the portraits and then stayed to look at everything else. I hope that is exactly what will happen at the museums where they’ll go on tour."

Michelle Obama has now won more Grammys than Katy Perry

Which is to say, the former first lady won her first Grammy on Sunday. Her memoir “Becoming” was awarded Best Spoken Word Album. It’s the third Grammy for the Obama family; former President Obama won the category in 2006 and 2008, for “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope,” respectively.

The Senate impeachment trial, illustrated

Credit: Bill Hennessy via CNN

Press access for Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate is restricted. There’s a ban on photography and audio recording in the chamber and only government-controlled video cameras are allowed to film the proceedings. Luckily, sketch artists Bill Hennessy and Art Lien have been in attendance.

Credit: Art Lien via the New York Times

Both artists have sketched at the Supreme Court, and during the impeachment trial they’ve captured moments like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with a quill, Sen. Richard Burr's (R-N.C.) bare ankles, a protester who was shouting "Schumer is the devil" before being led out by Capitol Police, and lawmakers catching some ZZZs.

Here's a first look at the Trump app

The Trump campaign is expected to release an app in a few weeks. CBS News got a first look that shows the app has tabs for pages like “Events,” “Engage,” and “Profile” and a notification box that counts up points.

Campaign manager Brad Parscale told CBS News in June they're hoping to mobilize 2 million volunteers, "two and a half times what I had in 2016," and that the campaign sees the app as a crucial component of their volunteer strategy. "I think that's really going to be the tool that kind of unleashes the army of Trump," he said.

The Obama campaign put out an app in 2008, and campaigns now regularly release their own. The Trump campaign’s 2016 app was called “America First.”

What George Washington would look like as a mascot

Credit: Brandiose and the Harrisburg Senators via the Washington Post

To celebrate the Washington Nationals' World Series win, the Nats' Class AA affiliate team, the Harrisburg Senators, in Penn., put out a limited-edition baseball cap showing a mascot-style George Washington wearing goggles and holding champagne. The cap was designed by San Diego creative agency Brandiose, which considered using the Senators' Uncle Sam mascot before settling on POTUS No. 1. The hats are available for pre-sale but aren’t expected to ship until June.

"Minor League Baseball is known for its irreverent, fun-loving, over-the-top promotions," Brandiose co-founder Jason Klein told the Washington Post. "We said, ‘How do we create a fun, gotta-have hat for Nationals fans?’ It’s outside the box of what is normally considered traditional for a championship team, but this is a love letter to the Nationals."

The artist behind the taped banana is selling a shirt

Artist Maurizio Cattelan, whose "Comedian" sold for $120,000 and stole the show at Art Basel, has turned his work into a tee that's much more affordable and raises money for a good cause. Cattelan’s “Comedian” shirt is selling for about $25 online and at the Perrotin art gallery bookstore in New York City’s Lower East Side, with profits going to Feeding South Florida, a nonprofit that serves Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dad, and Monroe counties.