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Donald Robertson, AKA @Drawbertson, is fashion’s favorite artist. And the appeal is pretty understandable: His creations, like the artwork adorning our autumn 2020 cover, are cheeky yet chic, sophisticated yet approachable. His storied career has taken him on a whirlwind tour through the beauty world to the magazine publishing industry and back again. We chatted with the colorful artist, who’s considered the Andy Warhol of Instagram, about inspiration, creativity in quarantine and more.

Photography provided by Donald Robertson

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I am inspired by news. If I hear they are remaking the Muppets movie, I paint Kermit. If Fashion Week is on, I paint fashion. It makes it easy. 

How have you stayed creative amidst the coronavirus outbreak?

I have been waiting my entire life to be told to go to my room and not come out. I am in heaven.

What do you think about the comparisons to Andy Warhol? 

I love artists who use their hands. Andy was an illustrator first; he drew. Same for David Hockney. Jeff Koons just yells at people. Other than that, Andy and I are pale white guys, and I probably should wear a wig.

Photography provided by Assouline

Looking back on your career, what are some of your proudest accomplishments?

I love my Assouline book. Especially when it gets sandwiched between the Chanel book and the Dior book. It’s a proud stack moment for a boy from the suburbs of Canada.

How would you describe the glory days of magazine publishing, during the heyday of Condé Nast?

S.I. Newhouse bought me a house. A house! It was ridiculous. We went to fashion shows all over the world with no phones, just our eyes. It was magical. Then we decided what to report back. True editorial. Magic! You don’t want to know. It’s over forever.

Photography provided by Donald Robertson

How do you balance your day job as a creative director at Estée Lauder and your “side hustle” creating art?

Estée Lauder’s Clinique brand just had its most successful gift with purchase makeup bag collection using my art and my name. I am the only executive who paints during our quarterly Zoom reports. True story.

Who are some of your favorite subjects you’ve depicted?

Easy: Anna, Karl, Kanye, Queen Elizabeth and Kermit the Frog. I like anyone who refuses to update their hair; I like consistent hair. 

What advice do you have for those looking to pursue creative endeavors?

Suck up! Flattery will get you everywhere. Add three inches in height and subtract 10 to 20 pounds on anyone you paint who is influential. I failed life drawing class doing this, but I’m winning now! It works.

Photography provided by Donald Robertson

Who are some up-and-coming artists you’ve got your eye on?

I can’t recall all their Instagram handles, but if you follow me, you will meet them. I promote the kid artists so I look nice, but secretly I’m jealous of their youth and talent. 

What do you hope your artistic legacy is? 

I paint barefoot by my pool in Montecito, California. I have five beautiful children and none have tattoos that I know about. I also have the nicest art collectors and the most generous social media followers. To top it off, I have you fawning over me. I’m in heaven right now. When I’m dead, who cares? I’m dead.

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