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It is nearly impossible to not feel joy when you look at the work of Oakland, California–based artist, illustrator, and children’s book author Christian Robinson. The worlds he creates are colorful and playful, and inspire awe in kids and adults alike.
If you’re familiar with his books You Matter and Another—as well as several others he’s illustrated, such as Milo Imagines the World and Last Stop on Market Street—or his Making Space video series, in which he guides viewers through a simple art project, you’ll recognize a clear throughline: sparking creativity and curiosity, as well as fostering inclusivity and community. For his most recent children’s book project, illustrating Meghan Markle’s The Bench, Robinson mentioned his passion for telling stories that celebrate diversity.
It’s with that same spirit that his soon-to-launch collection with Target was created. Available in stores and online starting August 15, with prices ranging from $6 to $70, the line consists of more than 70 pieces of apparel for kids and babies (including adaptive and sensory-friendly items), plus home decor that brings Robinson’s imagination to life.
Many of the motifs—from a woolly mammoth roaming across an area rug to a butterfly boasting chalkboard wings to a whale serving as a bookshelf—were inspired by his love of the natural world. “[They] are all animals I connect to and that remind me of the displays and figures at the Natural History Museum,” he tells us. In addition to the menagerie of characters, he drew on his interest in science and outer space to dream up the sun and moon bookends and (his favorite piece) a microscope table lamp, which he first sketched out in 2-D before sharing it with the Target design team.
“I used the same mediums and techniques that I use when making picture books—acrylic paint and collage,” explains Robinson of the overall process. “Getting started did cause some anxiety, as my background is primarily in picture books and animation. To ease the stress, I thought of an object and illustrated how I saw it in my mind.” (His Instagram account, @theartoffun, offers an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the designs from start to finish.)
In his studio space—an airy, light-filled room peppered with plants, collected vintage ephemera, and myriad art supplies (tidily arranged on floating shelving and pegboards)—Robinson plans to hang the collection’s praying mantis wall hook to help keep his apron and his dog Baldwin’s leash organized.
Also on his wish list? “I can’t wait to share pieces from the collection with my niece and nephew. I’ll definitely be hanging the You Matter wall tapestry in their bedroom!” says Robinson. “I hope that when children see my illustrations, read my books, and now have a piece from my collection, they are inspired to be kind and reminded that they matter and are perfect just the way they are.”