Unless one has remained in the shadows of the fashion world, you will, or at least should have heard of Donald Robertson. If you haven’t, let me inform you of the effortlessly colour splashed marks upon suggested figures; the elongated marks and use of Whole Food’s bags and gaffer-tape alike.
As an Instagram obsessed family man- he is a father of five, and all round creative who can decoratively embellish some Ritz-crackers- he may not sound like one of the great fashion creatives of now, but in fact, he is. Because Donald Robertson is a man whom can differentiate between art and crap. It is in his use of material on clean backgrounds and the sheer boldness of his work. It is the years of practice and his immersement of the fashion industry, from his early days and early works featured in the likes of FLARE and BAZAAR in the mid 1980’s, to his work behind the scenes of beauty brands and numerous collaborations. Lest us not forget that Drawbertson is much more than a creative on Instagram.
“A career artist, Robertson has worked in the cosmetics and fashion industry, beginning in Toronto alongside the founders of MAC Cosmetics, and most recently in creative development at the Estee Lauder Companies. He also launched American Marie Claire before redesigning American Glamour with Conde Nast and Hearst..”– Donald Robertson
“To put it simply, Donald Drawberston’s artworks are sheer eye candy, and just fun, because he can draw, tape, build, or doodle on practically anything!” – Vanity Fair
This is the man who has worked with Smashbox and is head of creative development at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, but he is also the man who has collaborated with J.Crew and had quite a large part in the Donald Robertson x Kara Ross project where recreated six bespoke handbags which featured his iconic designs and were up for sale.
“For Robertson’s collaboration with Ross, the artist is taking the designer’s signature luxe accessories and turning them on their head. One such example is Ross’ iteration of a Whole Foods’ shopping tote in python, leather, and waxed canvas, which Robertson attacks with paint, magic markers, and gaffer tape. The resulting images include a painter’s palette and a snake.”-style.com
As I write this piece, and scroll through his instagram or read his twitter feed, it becomes evident to me that I cannot multitask. Because the feed is covered with enticing beautiful works, his family videos are rather cute, and all his social-media outlets grow minute by minute. I can’t stop looking. I’m engrossed.
A less updated, but equally compelling Youtube channel can be added to his social media resumé. Animated versions of his illustrations as well as short videos exploring his world, is just another way Drawbertson blends the lines between fashion, art and film, and dear Wes Anderson fans, coming soon, according to Robertson’s website, is his latest work: The Royal Tenenbaums in hand-pulled screen-print.
Fashion Is Nuts is now one of his latest and quirkiest endeavours:
“Henson had his puppets, Warhol had his soup cans, and now Donald Robertson has his walnuts! Many people have come to view the fashion world as elitist, and unapproachable, but what everyone seems to forget is… Fashion is nuts! Whether it’s Edie Campbell dressed in nothing but body paint and a headdress, or Iris Apfel sitting front row wearing her signature glasses and dressed in red fur, fashion is, and has always been wondrously mad.” – Drue Robertson
In a nutshell, quirky project has caught the eyes of many all over the US and Europe. It’s satirical, somewhat realistic and draws attention all for the right reasons. There is an accompanying book which was shot by photographer Henry Leutwyler (Clients include: Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, NYC Ballet) and was produced by Water NYC.
[Read this feature on Fashion Is Nuts at Papermag]
To be infatuated with Drawbertson is almost like a right of passage. It’s also like a trend. One can’t help it and also, those who can, shouldn’t. Creatively speaking, his work is a phenomenal example of the transition through fashion illustration over time, especially when compared against the works of Rene Gruau, Francis Marshall or George Lepape. Along with others, Drawbertson captures everything about now- the way we use materials, the way the industry has moved forward, the way we respond to art and the way we reach a wider audience with once niche subject.
Joining him in the ranks is Katie Rodgers of Paperfashion; an illustrator I have had the pleasure of taking classes from. Though very different in their concepts, style and materials, it goes to show how there is something entirely specific with these visionaries. Robertson may have begun his career in a time some would class as easier, due to a lack, or even a non-existent social media industry, it is more than a good creative hand and access to materials which makes this visionary stand out. He had a hand in the development of some of our best loved brands. He currently works as an illustrator among many other things and for that, should be celebrated as one of the fashion industry’s great innovators.
His available works are for sale on the e-store.