Depictions of aliens in art run the gamut from funny to creepy to clichéd. We all have our own ideas — influenced by books, pop culture and campfire stories — about what creatures from other planets might look like.
But few artists portray aliens as Robin Eisenberg does. In her sphere, they're chill creatures with affinities for eating pizza and gazing out into space while wearing booty shorts. Another thing that distinguishes them: They're mostly female.
Eisenberg's aliens are the kinds of extraterrestrial chicks you'd absolutely want to hang out with on a deserted planet. A self-proclaimed Star Trek nerd, Eisenberg also loved fantasy and graphic novels growing up. When she began making art, her drawings were more photorealistic, but she soon realized that focusing on aliens and tapping into her imagination was much more fun.
“Growing up with Star Trek, I loved the idea that extraterrestrial life could be benign or it could be enriching to Earth culture — that kind of thing,” says Eisenberg. “And then as I got into The X-Files and that kind of stuff, I just liked thinking about it because I feel like thinking about that makes a lot of my own small problems seem like much less of a big deal if you think about the bigger scope of things. And it’s also just fun to imagine all the possibilities of what life could be like or if we’d even be able to see it.”
Eisenberg didn’t always identify as an illustrator and designer. She grew up in Eagle Rock and Glendale, eventually attending San Diego State, where she got her English degree. Little by little her true calling started to emerge. She doodled during class and started designing album covers for bands while touring with Crocodiles as their keyboard player.
Around 2014, she decided to stop touring and dedicate her time to creating trippy scenes of aliens and girls. She started her own business making enamel pins and patches; the small scale allowed her to create work in a new way.
“I used to follow a lot of artists who would make them and I always thought it’s such a cool thing, because it’s like a tiny piece of artwork that you can wear around,” says Eisenberg. “It’s not a huge financial commitment. If you’re trying to make clothes, that’s a huge investment and then people have to spend a lot to get things. But I like pins and patches because they’re really small. To get them, it’s like 10 bucks and you have a piece of all your favorite artists. You can wear them and represent.”
Eisenberg’s pins reflect her interests and inspirations. On her page you'll find Scully and Mulder (sold out, of course); a pin in the shape of a goth mermaid; a pin with cursive letters that spell "Feeling myself"; and a bright peach pin that looks a lot more like a part of the female anatomy than a fruit. Eisenberg relishes the idea of creating illustrations and other pieces of art that are on“the weirder end of things.”
Through social media, she’s met plenty of other like-minded creatives. She’s found that the pin community is especially supportive, particularly female makers who promote one another’s work. Often, she does pin trades where she writes to a maker and offers one of her own pieces for one of theirs. Her latest treasure from one such swap: a pin depicting the little worm dude from Labyrinth.
As much as Eisenberg’s work centers on the possibility of lifeforms on other planets, it also references some of the things we Earthlings grapple with. Eisenberg celebrates the female body — in all shapes and sizes — and creates works in which women are confident, sometimes even nonchalantly pleasuring themselves. If this sexually explicit content is off-putting to any viewers (or creepers, for that matter) she doesn’t mind.
“The whole idea behind my drawings is that it’s kind of for yourself,” says Eisenberg. “I think it’s really important to have a strong sexual identity and feel comfortable and happy with yourself. Whatever anybody else thinks shouldn’t really come into play at all. … That should just be about you and not about anybody else.”
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Eisenberg draws from her own favorite things — “like food and sex and people-watching” — and gives them a twist with her bold and bright aesthetic. But she's constantly also looking for ways to keep evolving her style.
“I hate the feeling when you get bored with your own work or you feel like your work is getting kind of tired,” says Eisenberg. “I try to never like stick with something just because it’s what I’ve been doing. I feel like if I’m not excited by my own work, then why would anybody else be excited by it?"
In the meantime, she'd also love to see how aliens draw humans. And she hopes that alien chicks really are as cool as the ones in her illustrations: "I dream that there are alien girls that just eat pizza in a bathtub and watch The X-Files and laugh about it. That would be amazing."
Eisenberg will be at this weekend's BUST Craftacular, Superchief Gallery, 739 Kohler St., downtown; Sat., May 7, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; $3. bust.com/los-angeles/bust-craftacular-spring-la.html.