Donald Drawbertson: Instagrammer Extraordinaire

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Flamingos for Giles Deacon S/S15
Flamingos for Giles Deacon S/S15Illustration by Donald Drawbertson

Insiders meets the man behind the most creative Instagram feed out there, Donald Robertson AKA Drawbertson

If one needed further evidence of fashion’s new love affair with Instagram, then the introduction of Instagrammer of the Year at this year’s CFDA Awards should provide conclusive proof. Among the nominees is perhaps one of the unlikeliest sensations of the new social media age: Donald Drawbertson. By day, Donald Robertson is the 52-year-old Canadian head of creative development at Bobbi Brown (and one of the three co-founders of MAC Cosmetics where he helped launch the Viva Glam! campaign for AIDS awareness) and devoted family man; by night, he moonlights on the visual social media site under the nom de plume of Drawbertson. In the short space of a year, he’s already drawn a rabid following of 41,000 followers to his rolling feed full of whimsical, elegantly dashed-off fashion illustrations made with “paint, a box of Sharpies, cardboard, gaffer tape and my iPhone.” Previously an introvert on Twitter, Drawbertson has become a prolific instagrammer, summing up its appeal succinctly: “Twitter is for talkers, iTunes is for listeners and Instagram is for picture people. Fashion folk are all three but mostly gawkers!”

“Twitter is for talkers, iTunes is for listeners and Instagram is for picture people. Fashion folk are all three but mostly gawkers!” — Donald Robertson

Dubbed ‘the suburban Andy Warhol’ (he deadpans, “I think it’s because we both suffer from male pattern baldness”), Robertson first caught AnOther’s eye with the introduction of the fashionista frog, Kermès, epitomising what Robertson describes as “impossible collaborations. Two things that will never go together.” The pop culture references are rife: his “tongue in chic” aesthetic has depicted everything from Anna Wintour accompanied by a giraffe called Mitford as her assistant, Coco Chanel on a box of Coco Puffs, Kim and Kanye, and he’s even transformed a recycling bin into a Louis Vuitton luggage set.

The ever accelerating pace set by social media means that his work has been regrammed by the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Pharrell Williams and he’s already garnered commissions for Warby Parker, J Crew and seen his lip paintings rendered in Swarovski crystals for Giles Deacon’s A/W14 showing. (He lets slip that pink flamingoes will feature in his next collaboration with Giles). He says, “I am into anyone who is creating things! I love helping celebrate the process of a great creative collaboration.” Next month will see a new collaboration with Carine Roitfeld and a dream project finally realised: his own solo gallery show at the Eric Firestone Gallery, aptly titled “#highfunctioningadd.” He’s embraced the instant feedback and limitless possibilities the photo sharing app has afforded him: “Instagram is exactly like when Miami Beach became hot in the Eighties! Everyone is there! It all looks new and there are major celeb sightings. It's the best!”

Text by Kin Woo