Illustration has enjoyed a boom in the age of social media. Image-focused platforms, such as Instagram, have proven themselves ideal places for artists to immediately share new work with larger audiences than ever before. This is certainly true of American illustrator Donald Robertson (or Drawbertson, as he’s known to his 190,000 Instagram followers), who has earned a reputation amongst the fashion industry at large. Robertson’s extremely pleasing art, which depicts figures clad in vivacious painted outfits and patterned collage, can now be consumed in the form of a handsome coffee table book, Donald, published by Assouline.
Robertson’s witty, irreverent pieces comprise an abundance of materials, from thick strokes of paint and pieces of neon, to printed gaffer tape and magazine cut-outs, all pieced together to form riotous compositions. Many of his characters are fashion and art industry heavyweights – Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, David Hockney, and Grace Coddington, for example – some of whom also offer their own opinions on the artist. “Donald Robertson belongs to that great category of instant artists. He just gives a look at you and can immediately draw you in an exact way, body language and all,” reads a quote from Valentino Garavani. “I wish we could draw fashion and make it as fast as he does his beautiful drawings!”
In Donald, Robertson’s own words are reproduced in his handwriting and juxtaposed with small doodles. Subsequently, it often resembles a sketchbook brimming with ideas. He describes why, for example, he is addicted to working with gaffer tape; why he’ll use “garbage” (pizza boxes feature heavily) as a canvas; how he tried and failed to stop depicting lips in his work. Indeed, pouting rouge mouths are one of Robertson’s signatures, often appearing holding a cigarette, with gapped teeth peeking through parted lips, or plastered over a dollar bill. With the illustrator often described as “the Andy Warhol of Instagram”, Robertson’s work is cult-y, accessible and the jolt of energy we could all use on a grey and drizzly Monday afternoon.
Donald: The Book is available now, published by Assouline.