Man of the month: Donald Robertson

Andy Warhol of the fashion world


By Wei Yeen Loh

Man of the month: Donald Robertson

Creative director for Estée Lauder brand companies by day and Instagram artist-warrior by night, Donald Robertson (or Drawbertson—his Instagram handle) is a wearer of many hats, most of them involving his artistic expertise in the fashion industry. When his assistant set him up with his Instagram account in 2012, his flair for creating “tongue-in-chic” fashion-inspired artwork—as he likes to call it, took off with his followers and landed him major collaborations, from J. Crew and Smashbox to Carine Roitfeld and Bergdorf Goodman. 


If you don’t know who Canadian-born New Yorker Robertson is and how he came to be, he’s one of the original three founders of MAC Cosmetics, and also the artistic brains behind the brand’s Viva Glam line—the AIDS awareness lipstick campaign that began in the 1980s and currently has raised more than $300 million. His iconic hand-painted pop art lip prints have graced the runway (Giles Deacon SS14), Cadillacs (from his collab with Smashbox) and footwear of all sorts (his shoe collaboration with deisgner Brian Atwood). So when he’s termed as the fashion world’s favourite illustrator, his impressive portfolio can attest to that.

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How Robertson has amassed a 163,000-strong following on Instagram largely has to do with his whimsical, happy-vibes inducing homemade artwork along with candid snapshots of his family (especially his adorable twin toddlers)—something that makes him all the more relatable and unassuming to his followers. “I must be incredibly annoying. It’s hard for ‘picture people’ to resist,” he says about Instagram in an interview with Buro 24/7 Middle East. “When I was on Twitter I never really said anything, but with Instagram I’m trigger-happy.” 

Robertson recently dipped his toes in the publishing industry, illustrating a satirical picture book with his wife and co-author Kimberly Gieske, titled Mitford at the Fashion Zoo—the chronicles of leggy giraffe cum fashion intern Mitford’s fashion journey along with his fellow wildlife peers Zap Possum, Shark Jakobs and Mikael Boars. Insisting that this book isn’t for children, and instead for adults in the fashion industry who are in-tune with their childish sides, he cites his wife as the main inspiration behind the book. “My wife Kimberly wrote it off my Instagram feed of cartoons I did of Mitford the giraffe as a fashion intern,” says Robertson to Fashionista. “Lawyers suggested we make famous fashion folk into animals. You gotta love a lawyer!”

One of Robertson’s many talents lies in what he does on a daily basis: sending a creative message across the audience according to what the brand wants. Whether it’s his own brand name that he’s building brilliantly through his Instagram account and many artwork pieces available on his site, or his casual, ever-humorous aesthetic that he lends to various projects, it’s undeniable that Robertson’s skill is being the ultimate fun-loving fashion illustrator with a dose of real-world panache and satire. 

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