Artist Spotlight: Robin Eisenberg
by Anna Gragert
There is art that makes you stop and stare, hypnotizing you as it draws you into a world built within the human imagination. There is art that wrinkles your brow, posing questions without answers (or, conversely, too many answers all at once). Then, there is art like Robin Eisenberg’s — art that has you take a good look at your reflection, reminding you that certain answers can only be found by looking right into your own eyes.
Robin’s work transports viewers to lands inhabited by women (and some men) who make you feel a certain way about yourself. Maybe it’s because they are badass, empowered babes who represent the freedom we all aim to attain. Or, it could be because these women represent a certain ferocity that’s already within us. Either way, these reasonings speak to the fact that we are living in a society that seeks to quell women — and that art such as Robin’s allows us to escape.
From her desk, Robin builds fantastical worlds that live and breathe and dance. Yes, she creates GIFs that actually come to life, but her static images maintain this same energy. In the creative’s universe, women of all shapes and sizes and colors are free to be. They are the masters of their own lives, and tell their own stories. Though she is their creator, Robin gives her characters room to narrate.
To find out more about the woman behind so many women, Robin kindly agreed to answer our (many) questions.
I’ve noticed that a majority of the characters you create are women. Is there a reason for this?
Being a woman is awesome, and I love celebrating women in all of their strength, weirdness, beauty, and complication. I tend to be much more drawn to art and stories that revolve around women, and I have always been more excited to draw women. I do draw men occasionally for projects, and although I don’t mind drawing them, it’s never as much fun for me!
With that being said, these women tend to give off an aura of empowerment and seem comfortable with their sexuality. Can you talk more about this theme?
Yes, totally! Well, I have had so many moments in my life where music or art or literature has really helped me to feel stronger or more comfortable with myself — whether by feeling understood/seen, or by feeling empowered by the traits of a character. I would love it if other women saw my work and felt that same way! Treating yourself with love is so important, and by drawing women who are at ease with themselves, it helps me to remember to try and be the same way.
I also love that the women you craft display an inclusive amount of diversity. Why is this important to you?
Inclusion and intersectionality are both so important in every area. I really want my art to feel like home to as many different women and people as possible. I feel like there are always ways that I can do better with this, and I absolutely want to continue to expand and challenge my own norms as far as the characters I tend to create and the kind of world I’m building with my artwork.
Though you’ve worked with many companies and organizations, you always remain true to your artistic style. What are some key elements you’d fight to keep in your work?
I am generally pretty open to different color palettes and even new imagery that I might not normally draw, but at a certain point, if a client is wanting an entirely different style of linework or method, I will usually decline the job and politely recommend a different artist who might fit their vision more closely. I’m all for expanding on my style, but as an illustrator, it seems counterproductive to make art that doesn’t look like my own work.
Speaking of your style, where do you pull inspiration from?
So many things! Living in L.A., and feeling forever in love with the city, the ocean, and the desert. I have lived in a lot of other places, but I love L.A. for having all three of those things so close together. AND FOOD! So much food in L.A. — another big inspiration!
People-watching has always been one of my favorite activities — although now it’s sometimes replaced with Instagram scrolling, which is not as fun but still can be really inspiring. Haha! It is still rad and weirdly novel to me how you can see into the lives of so many people and artists from all over the world! Even though you know it’s a filtered view, it’s still really interesting to me. Other inspiring things are new music, old favorite music, my parents, books, and changing weather.
At what point in your career did you feel comfortable calling yourself an artist?
I’ve never really thought about that! I guess I have always defined myself as an artist in some way, as it’s been the primary thing I’ve done for most of my life. I was actually voted “most artistic” in my high school yearbook, which is really funny to me. But yeah, drawing has always been such an integral part of my day-to-day life that I don’t know if I’ve ever really thought about whether or not I was an artist. I do think it took a long time for me to feel like I could call myself a “professional” artist. I would say that happened last year, when I realized I was finally supporting myself 100% with art.
What is one fear you’ve had to face on your journey as an artist? How did you overcome that fear?
Probably this, haha! Talking about myself and being able to somewhat eloquently discuss my work and my thoughts on where my art sits in the world. I’ve definitely gotten better (hopefully!) when it comes to interviews, but I still get incredibly nervous with in-person interviews or the notion of being part of a panel, talk, or conference. (Palms are sweating thinking about this. Haha.) I generally just go with the “confront your fears” thing. I think it’s definitely true that the more you do something, the less intimidating and scary it becomes until it is just a normal thing that you do and are fine with doing, no matter how good or bad you are at it. Also — forgiving yourself for making mistakes, not expecting yourself to be perfect 100% of the time is also important I think, and something I always try to remember.
As a fan of your Instagram account, I can’t get over how prolific you are. It feels like you are posting new, amazing content every day. How do you keep up with it all? Is there something specific you do to get in the zone when you’re working?
I really love drawing, and I really love working maybe to the point of being somewhat obsessive. I have to actively force myself to leave my desk or my studio because if I don’t, I will work every waking hour, which I don’t think is healthy or ultimately productive. But I really do love it and it is really rare that I have a day when I’m not excited to sit down and draw.
My dream vacation is a light-filled room with a huge desk and an epic ocean view. Haha. Having said that, I think it’s so important to shake yourself out of your habits and be involved in the real world, too, so I do try to get out and explore places, see friends and family, etc., so that I don’t feel like my work is becoming stagnant/repetitive (or feel like I am merging with my desk chair).
Your GIFs are STUNNING. What is your favorite part about creating them, as opposed to creating static images? The hardest part?
Thank you! It is so exciting and weird to see your art move and change! I have been doing it now for over a year but I still think it’s so fun and cool. I love how animation offers an entirely new world of possibility for art and what you can do with it. That’s my fave part.
The hardest part is just that, for me, it is so incredibly time-consuming. As of now, I do everything frame by frame, so my animation capabilities are pretty limited and everything takes forever. I’m hoping to expand on my skills this year, so I can start working on more extensive and complex animations.
So much of your work has an otherworldly quality to it, with many of your characters appearing to be from a different planet. Why would you say this is?
I really love the idea of a weird alien world that somehow still feels familiar and relatable instead of feeling distant. I also love drawing everyday life things in otherworldly settings! I was always obsessed with fantasy and sci-fi books/movies/games as a kid, so that has also definitely been a big influence. I still love all of the artwork from the book covers and graphic novels I had when I was younger. Lots of runaway princesses riding on dragons and sorceress women casting spells and alien ship captains looking tough … So rad! I still love all of that, but I guess I try and make it a little more personal.
If you could create your own world, what would it look like?
Lush, green, two moons, purple oceans, pink sand, deserts with craters, lots of sunflowers and eucalyptus and juniper and moss and cacti and palm trees also. Really nice dogs everywhere!
What is one piece of advice you’d give to all the women who aim to work in a creative field?
Don’t undervalue your own work. Be proud of your successes, no matter how big or small. Lift each other up. Whoops, sorry, that’s three pieces of advice!