Donald Robertson, or Drawbertson as he is better known, is a prolific illustrator, author, and multimedia pop sensation whose work spans industries and media. Whether he is painting walnuts or Birkins, you can always spot his art.
As a noted creative director for the Estée Lauder Companies and a number of their brands, he propelled to international fame through his social media presence and his zeitgeist works.
Some career highlights include: his takeovers of Bergdorf Goodman’s window displays in New York with fashion director Linda Fargo; the 2017 publication of Donald: The Book, by Assouline (an immediate best seller); his ready-to-wear collaborations with fashion moguls Giles Deacon and Jenna Lyons; his work with Bloomingdale’s in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation; his pop-up art installations at Miami Art Basel; and several shows at the esteemed Paris retailer, Colette. In 2018, Donald was honored at the Newport Art Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. Most recently, MaxMara debuted their 2021 resort collection in collaboration with him.
The Met partnership is one of the biggest highlights of Donald Robertson’s career. As a generous gesture of support for the Museum, he gifted the use of his illustrations to The Met.
The artist and his family reside in Santa Monica, California. In advance of the opening of the 2020 Costume Institute exhibition About Time: Fashion and Duration, we asked him to share some thoughts on The Met—and his remarkable career.
We heard that you and your daughter Drue visited Met Costume Institute exhibitions in the past. Can you tell us about it? My daughter Drue and I stood in line for the Alexander McQueen show for a very long time. Looking back, it was actually part of the fun. No one left the line—the buzz was just too great. Eventually we made it in. I think we both had our heads blown off by the spray-painting robots video with Shalom Harlow. This was pre-Instagram—there were still secrets in the fashion world. The entire exhibition was magic.
Tell us about your drawings based on fashions in The Costume Institute at The Met. So The Met called and asked for art to accompany their new, secret costume exhibit. Was I game? Uh, YEAH (duh!). I got all my color paints together and waited for my confidential briefing!! This was gonna be good. I’d been painting The Met gala festivities for years on my Instagram, so this was gonna be a color explosion!!! The Met team then told me, “Donald, the exhibit is ALL BLACK and WHITE.” What? WHAT? Then I thought, wait, that’s cool. I love this. I LOVE this! They allowed me two metallics to play with, BUT THAT WAS IT!
What is it like to have more than 200,000 Instagram followers? Uh, who cares about Instagram followers when you have merch with your name on it in The Met Store!!! I’m from the suburbs of Canada. This is insane.
How do your sons Henry and Charlie feel about collaborating with you on IG? I have a confession to make about my little guys on Instagram. They don’t realize what is actually happening globally re: their upbringing. Women in Korea come up to me and tell me they are “#teamcharlie!” (my littlest kid). I’ll tell them soon. For now it’s still a secret.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share with Met Store blog readers? If you get a chance, tune in to my new IGTV show called “Not That Donald Show.” It’s fun. Check out past episodes.
Drawbertson’s fashionable drawings for The Met showcase iconic styles, shapes, and silhouettes from a variety of eras—and demonstrate that basic black means forever chic. Shop his exclusive designs at The Met Store. And find all our related offerings for this year’s exciting (and long awaited) Costume Institute exhibition here.