The Marilyn Robertson Blog

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Alexander McQueen inspiration

March 10th, 2013

One question I constantly  get asked " inspiration where does it come from "….  it is a debate I sometimes have with myself. My answer ..  it is not one aspect only, but  an amalgam of many influences from films, fashion ,interiors and the myriad of visual stimulus that surrounds us all every day. Of course if pressed I can site one influence The wonderful work of Alexander Mc Queen.


For many years I have admired the fantastic style of Alexander McQueen, his talent was way beyond the boundaries of fashion, and on an altogether sublime level.  He managed statement art and style all in one, with creations that were always surprising and unexpected.


His untimely death was both shocking and sad.  The sudden coming to a full stop of a rare talent left me bereft for the unfulfilled potential of what might have been, and saddened by the certain knowledge that his talent can no longer continue to shine.


In my own field I love designing and painting my Glamour images.  While perhaps not pushing the boundaries as did Alexander McQueen’s creations, they never-the-less get my creative spirits whirring.  I was delighted in May 2011 to have the opportunity to visit McQueen’s “Savage Beauty” at the Metropolitan Museum.  It was stunning and far more beautiful and emotional than I had expected.  So inspiring!


If the exhibition comes to the UK, I will go to view it again.  Should it not come to London the link below gives a small flavour of the creations on show but cannot do justice to the excitement of the show itself or its much loved and hugely missed creator.

My illustrations at licensing shows

July 4th, 2011

How did you do at your show in New York friends, family and clients all ask the same question.  Yet there is no real answer.  It was fun  – buoyant – my artwork was admired – my ego grew!! – I made many new connections it was good to meet up with my already publishers and further more, gratifying to learn my published work is selling well.


My stand at the New York Licensing show

 Yet as any published artist can testify, it can be a very long time before you know, whether taking part at a licensing show is a success.  The ‘follow up’ can take a long time. Once you get into this game you soon learn this is very normal. Then one day bing! a company you thought may not be interested will get in contact and suddenly you are in.


 What do you say to new artist on the block wishing to enter into the world of licensing?  Patience, determination and facing up to rejection are a part of the course.  Good character building stuff, even though at times I could easily forgo building my character and settle for wimp!


Much has been written regarding getting started in licensing and the Internet is a great way to find information and tips.

If you are really keen and you feel your work would do well commercially then start the journey.  You will need support, even if you work solo.  I remember meeting a wonderful artist at the Surtex show 3 years ago who said Licensing is the “promised land” and it is.  Not always, but sometimes a deal can surpass your expectations and other times what seemed so promising never gets passed first post.  As with all journeys there are up’s and downs but having fun on the way is a must.


I have been a working artist / illustrator for a while but it is in the last ten years I have focused on showing my work at dedicated licensing shows and have been privileged to meet some great clients and artist & illustrators. Almost without exception I have only experienced a friendly supportive atmosphere.


My great neighbors for four days of the show!

The logistics of getting to the show needs to be planned right down to the last detail.  A mock up of your exhibition stand is a great help the first shows we did would take hours to put up – but now with experience and a vast quantity of heavy duty Velcro, the set up is quicker.  For three days you live in a world surrounded by art with great neighbors and interested buyers.  Sounds fun, well it is. Then on the last day the world that has been created for those three days disappears just as fast as it went up. With hugs and good luck you return back to your studio.


Licensing a different side.

March 17th, 2011

The world of licensing can sometimes surprise you.  I show at two major Licensing shows Brand Licensing Europe in London in October and Surtex in New York in May.  Both shows can threw up the unexpected and last year was no exception.The Brand Licensing show in London had an incredible buzz and I was pleased to meet and discuss design possibilities with new potential clients from different parts of the world of which some have now become not just “potential” but actual. It was also great to touch base with existing clients

One of the surprises from the licensing show was a commission for Charnos the tights and stockings company ( part of the Melas group) This year they celebrate their 75th Anniversary. I was commissioned to illustrate six styles of glamour ladies for their launch and the final packaging for a stunning range of limited edition tights and stockings.

"What,   illustrations of cats in tights ! "  quipped one of my family, now that would be a novelty !

Having finished all the artworks I was pleased to attend the launch party with Katie, my daughter, who works with me at my design studio.

 Marilyn  at Charnos launch London 16th March 2011

Screen with image at London Charnos launch


A preview : 

One of the 6 images for the new launch of Charnos limited edition tights & stockings.



In The Garden

July 23rd, 2010

If only I had more time to devote to the garden  In winter I pour over magazines and visit gardening sites dreaming of sunny days.

Each Summer I have great plans to spend more time in the garden.  At the weekend when the weather is fine, I do just that.  During the week when my working day starts and the sun shines, I am so tempted to drift out of studio and forget my work   As always, reality hits in, commissions become ever more pressing and dead lines loom! I am reminded of my school days in summer, gazing out of the classroom window wishing and daydreaming wanting to be part of the sunny carefree days.

Every year the Village I live in has an open garden day. I have been asked over the years if I would take part.  I have always declined saying it is not finished and I have better plans and who would want to visit  etc…etc… This year I said yes! –   Nightmare the slugs became enemy number one, I took to stalking them at night, with torch in hand, trying to prevent them eating my “Miss Bateman” clematis and other newly budding beauties. I worried about not enough rain, too much rain, too hot  The open day arrived and I flung open the french windows of the studio for the drifting visitors,  and loved the whole day.

Would I do it again next year ….the juries out …

Here are a few images of my first open garden – not the Chelsea flower show but such fun !

Blossoms in May 2010

May 6th, 2010

This year the blossom trees have really been a joy to behold.  As I promised myself in my last blog – I took my camera and recorded the beauty of the wonderful blossom on one of the many trees in flower in my village.

Blue blue skies & cherry blossom


A day in the life of……

April 26th, 2010

Do I ever have a typical day?  No, not really.  I will try and put into words a day in my life as an artist/illustrator.

I usually try and start the day with a walk and short run.  I live in the English countryside and today I walked along the local canal hoping to see the swans nesting.  I picked up speed and jogged over the fields towards the village church.  I admired the cherry blossoms looking wonderful in the early morning sunshine.  I made a decision to take my camera with me soon to capture the fleeting beauty.  On my return I took a quick shower, breakfasted and went across into my studio.  I live with my husband in an old stone and brick cottage.  My studio is in our garden and was built about 6 years ago.   It overlooks both the side and rear garden and the adjoining fields.   My day starts with checking my website and emails.  I always have to resist the temptation to linger at my computer.

My studio

Detail: My work space & well used easel.

Of course, it does not always look as tidy as this photo.  When I am in the middle of a commissioned range of illustrations, I am surrounded by pieces of artwork all at differing stages of work-in-progress.

I like to paint listening to music.  Once a piece is finished the process of reproduction starts……and hopefully ends up published and on products.  For example I have just received sample open prints from ‘May Ag’ print publishers. Here is one of the results:

One of a pair of New Prints.   The pair can be seen in my Web Gallery.

“Do you spend all day at your easel?” is a comment I often get asked.  Well that would be wonderful….but I have a number of clients and therefore running the studio requires a fair amount of administration.  The amazing part is the way technology keeps me in touch with all these companies   On two days of the week my graphic designer daughter Katie drives over to work with me.  On other days she works from her home studio and we can still link up by email and Skype.  Carol joins us on one of the days to assist running a busy studio.

At the end of the day I love to walk across the garden to the cottage and make a meal, sometimes to return to the studio later, especially when I am still am in creative flow.

I suppose I am lucky as I really love what I do – it is not a job, more a way of life.

Missing !

April 13th, 2010

Where did they go ………

Recently I changed my web hosting company. For some crazy reason I lost a number of blogs. Where did they go??….. some where out in the ether they are floating around without a home.

I hope to resume writing my blog in between running my studio and spending time doing things I love to do & things that always need doing.

So I have learnt a real lesson (yes, Matt you did tell me to do this!!!! ) I am now backing up all my writings so if they float away into the big blue beyond I have a copy !!!