We had the pleasure of collaborating with artist Drawbertson on the 2023 edition of our magazine. Donald created the beautiful “wildest dreams” section closers for our magazine. When John initially spoke to Donald about creating artwork, he gave him complete creative freedom for each of the 5 paintings: at-home and tented affairs, ballroom and black tie, destinations by land, destinations by sea, town and country club. We were lucky enough to speak with Donald and hear more about his creative process.
You know the philosophical question of, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Have you ever heard it asked, which came first, the artist or the patron?
“Well, you’ve got the cave paintings, so that kind of blows that away.”
How do you handle the delicate balance of being true to “the voices” and the client’s requests?
“It’s kind of juggling both. But also, my clients, I’ve found a niche of people on Instagram. And for the most part, I’d say they are all very, very fun to work with. It’s also very fast for me. So, the thing is, it doesn’t really require that much time or that much effort. It’s not like I’m doing anything that takes a long time. So, if I have a problem, I just paint over it.”
When we got together last, you were in the middle of the Adele situation, what happened there?
“So, Adele called me to do all the merch for her show, and then sure enough, that was canceled. It was an art project where we were going to sell prints at the shows.”
I also did the merch for the Met Ball. It was canceled for COVID. So that was one of those things where, sometimes stuff just doesn’t work out for a reason. The Met still released the merchandise. It’s all about my Google. As long as my Google’s fine.
The things you do for families versus for live events are wildly different. One is very temporary, and the other is commissioned, hopefully very permanent, like a fixture of a family’s home.
“I am now in a situation where I just got a painting back because somebody had a baby. One of my first family commissions I did was for Molly Sims, and she’d keep having babies. And I was like, “Dude, just call me when you’re done, and we’ll just get this thing finished.” I can’t stop unframing this thing.”
Is one more meaningful to you than the other?
“No, I love my family commissions. It’s something that somebody’s never going to sell on eBay, which I really like. And I seem to have pretty good luck, I haven’t been asked to remove any husbands lately. They’re fertility paintings.”
As far as things being temporary versus permanent, does it affect the voices to you at all?
“I wouldn’t say so much, because again, it’s super casual.”
Even for Beyoncé, super casual?
“Beyoncé was super casual. That was crazy. I didn’t even know I was painting for her, and her stylist had come. I’m a big believer in getting out of your comfort zone and going and painting live. And so, I would go to Bergdorf’s in New York and stand and paint live. It was organized in the store. I got in the store, and I was painting inexpensive stuff after people bought it. And this girl came up to me and asked me to paint on these things, and I was like, “Sure.” And then the next day somebody sent me all these pictures of Beyoncé holding up all this stuff. And I was like, “I don’t understand. It’s just paint. Did somebody retouch this? What is this?” And Beyoncé did a photo shoot with all the stuff that they bought.”
So, we share a mutual friend in Mindy Weiss? Has she put your work on a dance floor yet?
“Mindy’s another one. She’s always having me paint stuff for Babyface. She’s always having me do crazy commissions for her clients. I did all these paintings for Russell Westbrook because Mindy is friends with the family. She’s put them on dance floors.”
Was it for Paris Hilton’s wedding that you did the painting?
“My buddy Rachel Zoe says, “There’s only two wedding presents, Hermès or a Drawbertson Painting.” So, she called me after Paris Hilton got married, and asked for a painting. I was doing these dancing paintings and it showed up in a video that Paris posted. That was great.”
Other than the gift of a painting itself, how else have you seen your work commissioned for weddings?
“My favorite was a save the date I did for a local kid. We bought his house, and he called me and said, “Hey, you bought my house, will you paint my save the date?” And I said yes. They were the cutest couple.”
What was the creative process like for the pieces you created for our magazine?
“That was my dream assignment. I just like when somebody’s very specific. You gave me those categories, and then I had to stylistically make sure that they hit the different things. That was my favorite kind of project.”
We would like to thank Donald for his extraordinary vision and execution that played such an important role in our magazine this year. Check out his work on his Instagram @drawbertson