We’re so incredibly excited to introduce our first-ever collaboration with one of our favorite illustrators: Rob Wilson.
Wilson has done drawings and design work for the likes of Design Within Reach, Neiman Marcus, HarperCollins, Refinery 29, The Washington Post Magazine, Hudson Yards, and The Wall Street Journal (among many others) and is the creator of the icon for the amazing podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. His work is celebrated for a reason: it seems that every line he draws contains energy and life, which enables him to capture the very essence of his subject.
In the case of our collab, Rob’s subject was dogs, one of his all time favorite things to put on paper. The 5-piece Haute Dog Notecard Set he illustrated just for us features a collection of pups of all kinds — from primped poodles to adorable dachshunds — each drawn with just a few deft strokes. We were lucky enough to pin Rob down for a quick Q&A — read on to hear about his process and his own puppy love.
What is it about dogs that makes them so fun to draw?
I never really drew dogs until I adopted one. I thought I was getting a pet. Instead I discovered I was sharing my studio, apartment, life and every single moment with a large, furry creature with its own personality and agenda. Dogs’ shapes, sizes, colors and textures make drawing them fun, but capturing their individuality with a few strokes of the pen makes for better drawings and good humor.
Do you have a dog of your own? If so, can you draw him/her for us?
For 13 years I had a dog named Maisie. I often drew her and she appeared in a lot of my artwork for magazines and newspapers (New York magazine, The Washington Post) and collaborations (Design Within Reach, Todd Snyder NY). Most recently she has been memorialized in the dedication of the new book, “DOG: Stories of Dog Ownership.” My sketch of Maisie is on the book’s cover.
Where do you find inspiration for your drawings?
Most of my drawings are based on personal observations and experiences. I’ve carried a sketchbook with me for years and will jot down scenarios, ideas or images that I see every day as I walk around NYC, wherever I travel or happen to be. I think these sketched experiences give a sense of authenticity to my work.
What’s your process like?
I draw on paper with black ink pens. Sometimes I will create one complete image, but most often I draw in parts and pieces. I look at the shape of lines and decide whether I think they make sense together. I then assemble the drawings digitally. My intention is to make the illustrations look simple and effortless, which usually takes hours.
What do you keep at arm’s reach while you’re drawing?
I usually have seltzer or coffee nearby, music playing and maybe a stack of books. Preferably by a window.
Favorite color combination?
I don’t have favorite colors anymore, but you rarely go wrong with black and white.
Favorite drawing pen?
Mostly I use Tombow N15 Dual Brush Pens. I have six of them in front of me now on my desk.
What’s your happy place?
I’m not sure where it is exactly, but I often find it when I’m traveling.
If you could have dinner with three people, dead or living, who would they be?
Top of head: Dawn Powell, Federico Fellini and Charles Schulz. I hope one of them would bring nice wine.
Any tips for young artists?
Most of my career was spent as a creative director at a design firm. Then I decided 10 years ago to change creative directions and pursue my own path with my drawings, illustration and animation. This led me from Texas to New York. For any thoughtful young artist, my advice would be to learn, read, travel and experience as much as possible and see where it all takes them. And to take a sketchbook along while doing it all.
If you had a personal mantra, what would it be?
I’m not sure, but I’d like it to be short and in a scripty typeface so it could adorn pillows, T-shirts and koozies.