Santa Monica College welcomed renowned artist, illustrator, and fashion consultant Donald Robertson to its Fashion and Photography departments recently.
Julie Dole, Staff writer, March 25, 2019
Santa Monica College welcomed renowned artist, illustrator, and fashion consultant Donald Robertson to its Fashion and Photography departments recently. Almost as famous for being a super-nice guy, Robertson generously offered detailed, “behind the scenes” presentations over two days, which were received by highly enthusiastic students, some of whom brought his books to get autographed.
Formerly from Canada, and known in the industry as “fashion’s favorite artist,” Robertson has worked extensively across both the magazine and fashion businesses, designing for magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour; he has enjoyed a long and successful career as a hard-working fashion disruptor, well-before the tech world adopted “disruptor” as its favorite moniker. He currently works as Creative Director for Estee Lauder, while consulting freelance for numerous other companies and events. He is also a fine artist.
Highly innovative, Robertson first earned fame for pushing the boundaries in both product development and ad campaigns during the 1980s and 90s. Noting street trends and listening his own assistants’ ideas, Robertson advised M.A.C. cosmetics to locate its flagship New York City store in what was then grungy downtown NYC on Christopher St., instead of the glitzy uptown address M.A.C. originally chose. Robertson then hired “local legend” RuPaul as the store’s welcome and security staffer. Robertson’s vision worked, creating a unique shopping experience that went viral – and soon stretch limousines were pulling up to the store to deposit upscale shoppers.
At the same time, the AIDS epidemic was taking a terrible toll in the community and across the country. Robertson advised M.A.C. to create its “VIVA GLAM” lipstick line, dedicated to donate the product’s proceeds to AIDS charities, and hired RuPaul again – this time as a multi-cultural model for the advertising, by posing in full makeup and costume to spell out the words VIVA GLAM in print advertising. Another smash hit, the brand continues to this day, having raised awareness and over $4 billion for AIDS awareness, and boosting RuPaul into the celebrity stratosphere.
During his presentation at SMC, Robertson often returned to his key concept of “protecting your babies.” What he meant by that was, when you are convinced that your idea is sound, fresh, and interesting, fight for it. Said Robertson, “Save your babies!”
Robertson also underscored staying fresh and current, and ideally: to get ahead of the trends. Describing an interaction with a superfan who lobbied him to check out IPSY Gen, A Los Angeles-based outsider beauty and fashion event, Robertson said, “Look at your landscape – look at where you are, what’s happening, what’s going on. And if things are more happening and fresher elsewhere – MOVE!” Impressed after attending LA’s IPSY event, Robertson took his own advice, and moved his entire family to Los Angeles, where he now lives.
Robertson continued on to say: “You need a good place, a good environment to learn when you’re young. And beauty companies are great for that. Get an internship, learn and be willing to take chances and make mistakes while you’re young.”
To learn more about Donald Robertson, check out his Instagram: