Bethany Robertson is an illustrator based out of Brooklyn. Her beautifully feminine and intricate illustrations have been repurposed into everything ranging from large scale installations to trendy canvas bags.
Q: Your work seems very spontaneous. Is that true or do you plan every little movement of your pen beforehand?
A: I think my work has a definite method to the madness. My work begins with one spontaneous mark on the page and my hands at this point sorta know where to go from there. There is a definite formula to the flowers: I start with a big one and then add small ones next to it. I move to a different area o the page and do it again. I continue to do this until it is all connected. My process is what I would call a type of “organic procedure”
Q: Your illustrations combine scientific precision and artistic spontaneity. We talked about the second one, but what is science’s role in your work?
A: Previous artist statements of mine have consisted of comparisons between art and science and their direct and indirect connections, so science is definitely influential in some sense on my work. Both art and science are disciplines that consist of trial and error and the testing of a hypothesis. Both require knowledge of materials, of the physical makeup of things. Most importantly to me, both art and science require an understanding of the relationship between the micro and the macro- the basic units making up the larger whole. They require direct observation and being unafraid of failure. My flowers reference real plants, but ultimately I take artistic liberty to make them up as I go based upon the forms I feel that work best together.
Q: You are an artist who is always in interaction with the public from your announcement cards to room size installations. What does public mean to you as an artist?
A: Public to me just means allowing others to contribute to the evolution of my work. I LOVE making things for other people, whether a friend or stranger. I love getting feedback on work directly and seeing the immediate response to a card and what emotions are expressed.
Q: Your works own an undeniable exuberance and positivity. Your character is also similar. Is this intentional?
A: I think art can be very reflective of the various components of the maker. Their experiences in life and art shape one’s work and vice versa. Some of these phrases such as “killin’ it” and “ I like you” were at one time drawings I was making to remind myself during some pretty difficult times in my career and personal life.
“I am constantly amazed at the impact, if only fleeting, these cards have on others when I give them to strangers who may be having a bad day. It keeps me motivated.”
Q: Any new projects?
A: I have a book coming out later this year on hand lettering: The Botanical Hand Lettering Workbook: Draw Whimsical and Decorative Styles and Scripts
I am also working on a lot of maps as of late, specifically of Brooklyn and NYC. I think the principle of time and place have been super crucial to my work and career and I think we each have our own interpersonal geographies of location. I am also in conversation to do a mural in the East Village over the summer, so I am excited about taking my drawings to a much larger scale! I keep a sketchbook on me every moment of the day to just fill with ideas and inspiration- a “bucket list” of things to make.
Keep up with Bethany’s work by following her on Instagram!