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Spill It! With Helen Robinson

Art and style are two “ampersand” essentials we can’t get enough of here at Neely & Chloe, which is why we’re excited to introduce our next Spill It! interview with Helen Robinson. You may remember Helen’s name, as she’s a valued N&C collaborator and one of our favorite fine artists. With her focus on people, Helen’s work has a truly human quality to it, and in a digital age, that’s an even more impressive feat! We visited this talented (and stylish, we might add) creative at her new Brooklyn studio and later met back out our HQ to chat art, design, and surrounding yourself with people who make everything count. Enjoy today's interview (and episode) with Helen below.
Spill It! Introductions, please! Hi! I’m Helen Robinson. I’m an artist based out of Brooklyn.
Spill It! We loved working with you last year! For our new customers, give us an overview of what we collaborated on and what’s changed since then. I obviously love working with you guys too. Last year we collaborated on a few things. Neely and Chloe showcased some of my newer paintings at the N&C showroom for a few months, which opened the door for other collaborations. I did some custom hand painting on various N&C bags, which was a great way to merge our talents. It was also a fun opportunity to learn how to paint on a new surface and work with leather for the first time. Surprisingly, it’s not very different than painting on canvas.
Spill It! How would you describe your art and sartorial style respectively? Both my art and sartorial style are minimal at heart with the occasional unexpected element. Most days I’ll wear jeans and a tee shirt and then throw on something extra like big earrings or a hat. My paintings are similar in the sense that most of my portraits have an unexpected element in them, whether that is a bold color, interesting pattern, or some graphic text.
Spill It! As an artist, what would you say are your ampersand essentials? A journal & pen are definitely my ampersand essentials. Before I begin a painting, all of the hard work starts in my journal. It’s a place where I jot down ideas, random thoughts, notes on other artists, quotes, sketches, etc. All of which contribute to the concepts behind a new painting or series.
Spill It! Do you remember your first artist bag? What made it so special? When I first moved to New York after graduating college, I bought myself a black Herschel backpack, which I would consider my first real artist bag. It was special because it wasn’t super special. It was very utilitarian and fit everything I could possibly need for working in my studio and whatever else I needed for my job as an artist’s assistant. I often went to my studio before work and then returned at night, so I needed a practical bag to hold everything I could possibly need for the whole day. I still have it and use it all the time when I travel.
Spill It! What’s your artistic process? Most people assume I listen to music while I paint, but I actually find it a bit distracting. Unless I am gessoing a big canvas or doing some looser prep work, I really need to concentrate, since most of my paintings are hyper-realistic. I actually like to put on a sitcom like The Office or Friends and just let it play all day. I’ve seen all the episodes a million times, so I know I won’t get distracted, and it provides background noise and the occasional laugh. Even before that, I like to have coffee and make sure my workspace is organized and clean before I start painting. Clean space, clear mind right?
Spill It! Can we look inside your bag right now? Yes! In my bag, you’ll find my journal, various pens, my keys, wallet, headphones, Dermologica Pure Light SPF 50 (even in the winter because I have such fair skin), ChapStick, sunglasses, and some Trader Joe’s trail mix or nuts. My mom would be so proud.
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