September 30, 2015

Donald Robertson at The Dallas Fashion Zoo

The famous fashion artist painted 45 Dallas women and lived to tell the tale.

Donald Robertson has achieved something most tween-aged girls dream of: 163k followers and Instagram. @Drawbertson is known for his artfully painted fashion portraits, and his work has been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Victoria Justice.

He was recently in town to celebrate two major projects: the publishing of his book, Mitford  at The Fashion Zoo, and the completely of a project curated by Forty Five Ten’s Brian Bolke: to paint 45 emblematic Dallas women. He’s a busy guy, but we were lucky enough to sit down with him for a few minutes (he has the greatest laugh). Here’s what happened:

1530 Main: Is this your first time in Dallas?

Donald Robertson: It’s my second time in Dallas, I love this city. I met Brian [Bolke] in New York and he gave me a list of 45 Dallas women that he wanted me to paint for the café. I can’t wait to meet them all.

1530 Main: What was painting iconic women in Dallas like? Especially since you don’t know them personally. 

DR: Painting the 45 Dallas women was just so difficult. It’s so hard for me to paint people that I don’t know. I thought he was out of his mind when he suggested the project—but of course I wanted to do it. But I had to be very careful and strategic—I wanted to make sure everybody knew who the subject of each painting was.

1530 Main: What’s your artistic process like? 

DR: I don’t really think about what I’m doing when I paint, it just comes out. Honestly, it’s all about going super fast. If anything takes longer than 15 minutes then I’m totally over it.

1530 Main: When you’re painting subjects you don’t know, what inspires you?

DR: My inspiration comes from people. I literally glom on to people I like. Linda Rodin is a perfect example of somebody who I started painting before I even met her, because she’s so visual and I became obsessed. If I see somebody I like, I steal them and put them on paper.

1530: How has social media changed your career?

DR: Literally, it made it. Illustration used to be such a small part of publications, and it’s becoming big again thanks to social media. Illustrators are actually getting space in pieces. Instagram is so visual and it’s totally helped me.

1530: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

DR: Nothing. There was no other option.