Marilyn was born in England at a military hospital in Tidworth, Wiltshire. Her mother was from Malta and her English father served in the British Army - so she spent her early years living in various parts of Germany and the UK. After school in Staffordshire she studied to become an art teacher. Her first job, teaching art in Leamington Spa, was followed by a move to Nottingham where she carried on teaching at a school in neighbouring Derbyshire.
Starting in business
When her daughter Katie was born, Marilyn began painting and designing greeting cards, and selling them - first at craft fairs and then to the trade via her own small business, ‘Paper Kite’. The family moved to Wirksworth, Derbyshire, a small, historic market town
Marilyn’s design highlights at this time included a selection of some of her card designs under the Design Council approved design scheme, representing critical acclaim within the UK industry. She also found time to undertake freelance design commissions for the Book Tokens Company.
Marilyn was among the first artist/designers to have her cards printed by the Sherwood Press, Nottingham, a printing company who in the late 1970’s with only two employees dealt mainly with general local business. Today the same company is highly successful and one of the UK’s leading specialist printer of greeting cards and related products, working from state-of-the art premises on the outskirts of Nottingham. They still print Marilyn’s work!
In the mid 1980’s the recession, the industrial shake-out which accompanied it, and an overcrowded market place, led Marilyn to pursue new design challenges. Moving to West Bridgford she turned her talents to a range of textile related enterprises. Working from a studio in the Nottingham Fashion Centre she variously designed and made bespoke knitwear and lingerie, and undertook a range of textile display work.
A noteworthy project from this time called on Marilyn’s textiles and graphic talents when she was asked by Alan Hawkes, then owner of UK greeting card publisher Paper Rose, to design and put into production a series of handmade greetings cards. This range was launched at the NEC Birmingham Spring Fair in 1989, as “Talking Pictures” to critical acclaim and enjoyed instant commercial success. Paper Rose later sold the company but it continues as a leading player in the UK hand-made greeting cards marketplace.
Another notable commission during this period was a design/production collaboration on a series of patchwork quilted menswear garments for re-known Nottingham menswear designer, Paul Smith. In the same week the jackets appeared on BBC TVs Top of the Pops (worn by Wet Wet Wet’s bass player) and were on display in the twentieth century fashion collection London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
The modern era
In the late nineties Marilyn’s artwork was discovered by Laurie and John Chester publishers of Wild Apple Graphics, based in Vermont, USA. Wild Apple contributed towards exposing Marilyn’s artwork onto an international stage publishing and distributing open prints world-wide. This success was later consolidated by a continuing print publishing contract with German publisher May AG Fine Art.
Working to a dramatic colour palette Marilyn produces vivid images in a very distinctive style. Her ‘trademark’ floral and still life original paintings are valued by art collectors worldwide for their impressionistic life and fluidity, with rose and tulip studies being particular favourites.
In recent years Marilyn has increasingly focused on artwork licensing of her images through attendance at the Surtex international trade fair in New York where she has continued to find commercial and artistic success.
In 2007, due to increased success Marilyn’s daughter Katie Goodman, an experienced graphic designer joined the Marilyn Robertson’s studio.
Her greeting cards designs are published by a wide range of publishers including Sunrise Publications and Pictura in the US, Scarlett Greetings in Canada and numerous companies in the UK, including Blossoms and Bows, Paper Rose, Medici and UK Greetings. Other products featuring Marilyn’s work include stationery, ceramics, tabletop and cross-stitch kits. And she’s not finished yet.…!