Interview with @DonaldDrawbertson, Part I

About a year ago during my nightly ritual of crawling into bed and endlessly scrolling through my Insta-feed, I stumbled upon @donalddrawbertson. This Instagram account’s brightly colored paintings and unique subject matter caught my eye, and I immediately fell in love. Soon, I found myself constantly checking Donald Robertson’s, or **“Drawbertson’s,” Instagram to see what his latest project was. Mr. Drawbertson’s unique and upbeat pieces are almost always inspired by pop culture or the fashion industry. His signature row of figures (either painted, drawn, or constructed with colored “gaffer tape”) differ from models, to animals in a fashion zoo with giraffe “Mitford,” to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Karl Lagerfeld. He also created “impossible collaborations,” like the “Kermès” – Kermit the Frog combined with an Hermès Birkin bag. (Fun Fact: I actually coined the named “Kermès” when I suggested this name in an Instagram comment on the first piece in his series!)

Through Instagram, I have been able to watch Robertson’s international fame grow tremendously. He is referred to as the Andy Warhol of this generation. Robertson has been written about in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the Tory Burch blog. He also has designed prints for J. Crew’s Crew Cuts and Giles Deacon. So, as a huge fan, I recently went out on a limb and emailed my favorite artist, thinking an interview with the insta-famous Donald Drawbertson would be a great post for my first contribution to the WFU Style blog. Within a few hours, he responded to my interview proposal saying, “Shoot!” and instantly, my week life was made! Keep reading to find out more about Mr. Drawbertson and his wonderful sense of humor.

Some of Robertson's work he has Instagrammed, including the gaffer tape Kermès Birkin.

Some of Robertson’s work he has Instagrammed, including the gaffer tape Kermès Birkin.

WFU Style: First off, tell me a little about yourself.

Donald Robertson: The doctor said my mothers womb was covered in cave paintings! That early…

WS: In school, were you on an art, fashion, and design path? What did you major in?

DR: I was asked to leave fine arts college in Toronto because I suggested we have a group show and sell all our life drawings that were lying all over the place! I quickly learned $ELL is a four-letter word in starving artist land! So I dropped out.

WS: You were one of the original founders of MAC Cosmetics and you now work for Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, and Aerin Lauder. What exactly do you do for these brands?

DR: I worked with and for the original founders of MAC, Frank and Frank. After I dropped out of college I immediately became their Creative Director. I work in the beauty biz to this day! Everyone loves a lip painting and its completely recession proof! Right now I’m launching A Donald Lipstick by Smashbox cosmetics exclusively at Colette in Paris called Be Legendary.

Donald Robertson for Giles Deacon SS14

Donald Robertson for Giles Deacon SS14

WS: What is a typical day like for you?

DR: I wake up and answer your interview questions, and then I paint all day till dinner with the fam. Then I help with Grade Four homework and bed …(I have five kids. I can only help with grade four homework and down… dropout remember!)

WS: You have gone from paper bag Birkins to the real deal “Kermès” Birkin. Do you get really nervous when your canvas is a $10,000+ bag?

DR: Nah. But my lawyer makes them sign a…ha!

The highlight of my life--when "I won!"

The highlight of my life–when “I won!”

WS: Where do you find the most inspiration?

DR: Instagram begets Instagram

WS: What made you originally decide to use gaffer tape?

DR: It’s fast and punchy and kinda edgy—all things I long to be.


L: Donald at work, C: Family portrait, R: Robertson's favorite of his five, Runty

L: Donald at work, C: Family portrait, R: Robertson’s favorite of his five, Runty

Stay tuned for Part II, and thanks again, Donald, for such a fun and informative interview!


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