Thursday, March 30, 2023 Mar 30, 2023
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Donald Robertson’s Quirky Characters Are Making a Splash in Highland Park

The celebrated artist and his trademark sense of humor are generating a buzz in his new neighborhood.
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Donald Robertson at his new Highland Park house
Elizabeth Lavin

It doesn’t take Donald Robertson long to make an impression. Upon putting down stakes in Highland Park, the celebrated artist—known for his irresistible sense of humor on and off the canvas—announced his arrival via the listing company yard sign fronting his new home. “It’s important for my new neighbors to know my work is hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (no one mention the gift store part),” he joked on Instagram, where he has a sizable and influential following.

The Toronto native turned Californian had only briefly visited Dallas for a social event or two, but remembered it fondly when a fit of distance-learning-fueled “Zoom rage” led one of his 6-year-old twins to stab the other with a pencil, prompting a search for someplace where schools were open. A few calls, a three-hour flight, and a FaceTime property tour with his wife later, the Robertsons were Texas bound. Arriving in January following a pit-stop in Marfa, he’s found his new neighbors to be quite hospitable—his kids were in the neighborhood football playgroup by 3:00 their first afternoon—and the culinary delicacies compelling. “Rotel. And Velveeta! Who knew?” he laughs.

Like the commissioned characters above, Robertson’s art often includes cartoonish figures, both recognizable and of his own imagining, as well as a fashion influence he comes by honestly. (His résumé includes significant contributions in the world of magazine publishing, clothing collaborations with retail giants, and 14 years running as creative director for Estée Lauder.) Fortunately for Dallas, he’s wasted no time contributing work for the benefit of local causes, including Booker T. Washington High School and Dallas Child Advocacy Center. “Don’t hate me because I have California license plates,” he says. “I’m doing fundraisers!”