We had the good fortune of connecting with Casey Robin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Casey, what do you attribute your success to?
I’ve never been one for strategic business tactics or analytics. Graphs make my head spin. I approach my business with the same caring one-on-one attitude that I bring to my valued friendships. When I make a new print or book, I think about the person receiving it and how it may impact them in their daily lives. I try to make art that feels like a hug. In the past, I had tried to impress people with my hard-won skills. I was a bit of a show-off, honestly. When I switched my focus from “how does this make me look?” to “how can this bring joy to others?” everything fell into place. I reached out in love, and people responded.
Though I’m doing well now, I pour the same care into each interaction that I did when I was just starting out. In filling orders or replying to followers online, I try to give each person my full attention, if only for a minute. I still hand-write the thank you notes that accompany my Etsy orders. I sign each print by hand. As far as my brand goes, “Casey Robin” is really just me living as my best self, extending love and care to all my fellow humans.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My ethos – my catchphrase – is drawn from an episode of Japanese Ninja Warrior. On seeing a tiny, determined cheerleader power through a tough-as-nails obstacle course, the announcer remarked, “Her secret weapon is cuteness!” I am much the same: cute and sweet, but armed with a ton of determination. My art is charming and whimsical, but underscored with a deep respect for nature and a sincere love of the viewer. One thing that sets me apart is my commitment to physical media. Most days begin with me sitting down at my drawing desk and sharpening a pencil. While I am proficient in digital media, there is just something so magical about drawing with pencils and painting with paints.
My journey as an artist has been far from easy. It is still a bit of a hustle and grind, even though I’ve been a full time artist for more than a decade. The hardest thing is keeping my head up when I feel low. It’s so easy to peek in on social media and feel like everyone has their act together way more than you, or is just way, way more popular. I try to keep my focus on the work at hand, and on doing my very best to put beautiful things into the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d pick them up from the Burbank airport and drive them straight to Porto’s, where we’d pig out on potato balls, fried plantains, and steak tortas. Then we’d stroll up and down Magnolia street, stopping in at Audrey K and Besame to see the new vintage-inspired fashions and makeup. We’d drive out to Pasadena to browse illustrated books at Vroman’s, then stop in at Lunasia for some dim sum and Wanderlust for some high-concept ice cream. We’d waste a few delightful hours at Neon Retro Arcade, playing on all the vintage arcade cabinets while downing packets of Pop-Rocks. The next day, we’d dress up and go to the Huntington Library and Botanical Garden for tea, art, and flower-viewing. If they’re an artist, I’d take them by Carter-Sexton to buy supplies and to the Getty for breathtaking views. If they’re more casual, we might go roller skating at Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale – on a Tuesday night, so we could skate to Dominic’s live organ music (his Disneyland montage is the bessssst.) Of course, we’d go to Disneyland and California Adventure, where we would sugar up with a Rainbow Unicorn from Bing-Bong’s before settling down to groove with the Pixarmonic Orchestra. We might drive the PCH to Huntington Beach (with lunch at Central Park cafe, to see the cute doggos and the ducks.) At some point, we would need to get an acai bowl. To finish, I would show them the place where I live and work: a little patch of countryside in the hills of Tujunga. We’d drop by The Backdoor Bakery for fresh-baked picnic provisions, then follow deer trails through the wash and into the bunny meadow where I live.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to Adrienne Brown-Norman, my first art director at Disney Publishing. When I was still new to LA, Adrienne took a chance on me, brought me in, and trained me in a delightful profession. She let me stretch my wings painting all the characters for my first book with Disney, the Big Little Golden Book “Belle to the Rescue.” I still have the signed copy sitting on my bookshelf. Adrienne’s confidence in me – and the confidence she models in her own career – have made me a stronger, better person. I will forever be grateful to her for the years of good work and the marketable skills she provided me. If you’re reading this, Adrienne, thank you (and I think my light shapes have gotten better.)
Photo of Casey in her studio taken by Amber Aki Huang