I often draw aliens who are comfortable with themselves – with their bodies and their sexuality.
Robin Eisenberg is an artist and animator in Los Angeles who creates neon and pastel worlds full of sexy aliens taking butt selfies, lounging in starry pools, going on adventures with their hot alien friends and space dogs, and generally living their best lives. She has created art for iconic brands like Vans, Adobe, Netflix, Apple, Adult Swim, HBO, Doc Johnson and VEVO, as well as created music videos, taught workshops and appeared on creative panels. Penthouse spoke to Robin about how she turned a hobby into a career, her controversial Wonder Woman drawing and galactic ass eating.
How did you develop your style?
My drawings used to be very realistic, with just black pen and lots of detail/crosshatching. But over time I started to feel kinda bored with my work. Some people have that style and it’s exciting and interesting, but I just felt like I wasn’t expressing myself the way I really wanted to. Starting to work digitally was a game changer for me! I experimented with simplifying my linework a lot and using really vivid colors. I also started combining everyday subject matter with elements of sci fi and fantasy. It was so much fun, and it felt like I had finally found a good conduit from my brain into the world.
What inspires your art?
I’ve always been really into space and magic. Growing up I loved fantasy novels, Star Trek, and playing adventure RPGs like King’s Quest. All those things share a feeling of coziness, of immersing yourself into a world and exploring it. I also love people-watching and thinking about the details of everyday (human) life. So in my art I think it’s really fun to combine those elements and draw alien beings doing relatable things, but in these magical futuristic worlds.
What’s your artistic journey been like to this point?
Drawing has been a constant since I was really little, but I’ve also always been into music and writing. I went to school for music but I lost my scholarship (due to a low GPA, whoops), and ended up majoring in English. I did take art classes! But I was generally kind of a mediocre student. I would always ditch my classes to people-watch and draw in my sketchbook haha. After graduating, I worked a lot of random jobs and tried to figure out how to be an artist professionally. The path to an “art career” can be so uncertain - and it’s hard to know if you’re ever moving in the right direction. After I found my drawing style, I started posting my art on Instagram, and started reaching out to magazines and sending my art to my favorite bands and companies. I also opened an online shop in 2015 and started selling prints and enamel pins. That was super helpful. I started to slowly get regular work as more and more people discovered my art. Eventually, in 2016, I was making enough as an artist that I was able to start doing it full-time. It felt (and still feels) incredibly lucky and amazing to be able to do what I love as my actual career.
Is there an overarching intention or message behind your work?
I want people to hopefully be able to see themselves in my work, and feel the same calm and coziness that the characters in my art feel. I often draw aliens who are comfortable with themselves - with their bodies, with their sexuality, and with their surroundings. I hope that my art helps people to feel comfortable with those same things!
Do you have a favourite piece of your own work?
Oooooh… hmmm. I will always have a soft spot for the drawing of the alien in the bath eating pizza. It was one of my first pieces that I think resonated with people a lot, and it felt awesome to see so many people share it and say “this is me” haha. More recently, I made an animated loop with sound of an alien sleeping by a fireplace with snow falling outside. It’s super cozy and it was fun to put together all the different elements.
Your artworks are generally fully developed worlds. What’s the process of putting that world together?
I’m usually doing something mundane like brushing my teeth or watering my plants or eating pancakes (etc.) and I’ll think about how it would be fun to draw someone doing this same thing but in some kind of interesting environment. I also think our planet is really incredible is always a source of inspiration. One of the reasons I love LA is that you’re close to so many things - the desert, the ocean, and the mountains, all while being in a giant city! I think about all of these places and then imagine an otherworldly version of them.
What’s technically involved in creating one of your pieces? What tools do you use?
When I’m working digitally, these days I pretty much just use my iPad with an Apple pencil, and my computer. I work in Adobe Fresco and Photoshop for drawing, and After Effects for animation. Fresco is basically just a digital sketchbook for me - there are a lot of awesome brushes and features, but I just use the Sketch tools (pencil and pen). I do the sketch and the linework in Fresco, then export the file to Photoshop to do the color as it’s a lot quicker. There’s an app called Astropad that allows you to use your iPad as a tablet with your computer. Sometimes if I don’t have access to my computer or if I want to record a time-lapse, I’ll color everything in Fresco, too - but it takes a lot longer. If I’m working physically, I use acrylic paint and work differently (sketch, then color, then linework).
You have over 600k on Instagram. Has it been a steady climb or was there a moment it exploded?
It’s been sort of a steady climb, with big bursts every now and then! I think it definitely exploded a bit early on when I first opened a shop and started getting more high-profile clients, and then I’ve seen a gradual increase ever since.
What's your relationship as an artist using Instagram like?
I really love being able to connect with people, and I love when people comment telling me how much they relate to my art. It genuinely makes me so so happy. I also think that for so many artists, Instagram has been kind of a launching pad where they’ve been able to reach an audience they might not have been able to reach otherwise. I do think it’s important to take breaks from IG when you need to, and to try your best to not compare your success with someone else’s. And I think it’s good to not feel tied to people’s expectations of you and to try your best to just keep making work that you’re excited about. (Definitely easier said than done sometimes, but it helps me to keep it in mind.)
In Instagram important to your visibility as an artist?
Totally! It’s been a huge part of my art career. Almost every project I work on has come from people finding my art online. It’s been an incredible help.
Do you ever struggle with censorship?
Yeah, that’s one of the frustrating things about posting art on most social media generally. A lot of my art is pretty explicit, and I’ve often had pieces taken down from some platforms. I love drawing sexual art, but I often wish there was a platform for posting art that wasn’t as strict about sexual content/nudity.
What’s the best or strangest feedback you’ve had on your work?
The best feedback is when people say that they see themselves in my work and that it makes them feel beautiful.
What's something about you that we might not expect?
I play Beat Saber almost every day (I like it because it makes me feel like I’m in the movie Hackers which is one of my fave movies.
What’s something that made you laugh recently?
I recently did a drawing of a Wonder Woman-inspired character for an upcoming collab with DC Comics, and I happened to draw the character with thick thighs and small boobs. I didn’t really think anything of it, I just drew that body because it’s a body type I’ve seen in the world. The drawing caused a tonne of controversy, and some of the comments were seriously hilarious. One person spent multiple paragraphs lecturing me on the “facts” of the digestive and metabolic systems of superheroes. Haha!
What are you working on at the moment?
A couple big long-term animation projects that are very exciting! Outside of those, I’ve been working on something special for Vans and a really fun project for Adult Swim.
See more of Robin Eisenberg on her website and on Instagram.