Updated: Oct 17, 2018
"I'm not a boss bitch. I'm a boss, bitch," creator Samantha Rothenberg - known as Violet Clair on Instagram - takes expression and real talk to a whole other level with her empowering and honest illustrations.
Charles M. Blow once stated, “an illustration is a visual editorial - it's just as nuanced. Everything that goes into it is a call you make: every color, every line weight, every angle.” Illustrations have been trending and selling like hot cakes as positive messages have been incorporated into these pieces of art, which actually prove Blow’s statement to be accurate.
If you’ve followed The Bold Type on Freeform for Season’s 1 and 2 through all forms of social media, then photos of Violet Clair’s mural’s and other work have probably popped up in your feed. The murals state positive messages such as: “I’m not a boss, bitch. I’m a boss bitch”, or “Don’t you shush me”. Samantha Rothenberg is the mastermind behind Violet Clair as it is considered to be her “chic-er alter ego”.
“I've always been artistic and loved to create,” said Rothenberg. “Unfortunately, the high school I went to was super focused on math and science, and the kids who excelled at these subjects were given the most amount of attention and guidance.”
Due to her experience at this educational institution, Rothenberg thought art wouldn’t get her anywhere in life. A decade later while in her late 20’s, she felt deeply unfulfilled.
“I had friends who pursued artistic professional paths and were getting increasingly more established and successful. I would often think to myself ‘I wish I did that’,” expressed Rothenberg. “Then one day, I kind of just took a stand and decided that I would do whatever it takes to build a career that would make me happy.”
For most of her life, illustrating has been a hobby she enjoyed in secret. When Rothenberg decided she wanted to become a professional artist, she chose food illustration as her niche, since cooking is a major hobby of hers.
“I was really having a hard time making that work,” she said. “So, just for fun, I started posting artwork with a more irreverent tone to Instagram - once I did that, it felt like I was finally getting some traction and finding my voice.”
Throughout her days of discovering her artistic voice, one of Rothenberg’s comics went viral on Instagram due to Leah Dunham, star of HBO series Girls, re-posting.
“I got like, 10k followers in a day,” said Rothenberg. “That definitely got me thinking ‘okay, this is a tone that works for me’.”
Betches Media also re-posted one of Rothenberg’s comics on Instagram, which Freeform’s Head of Social Media actually came across and ultimately began following Rothenberg on the platform.
“So when The Bold Type project came up, the head of social recommended my work,” said Rothenberg. “The Season 1 walls for The Bold Type were one of my first serious illustration gigs - and the whole thing was such an incredibly surreal experience.”
Rothenberg also mentioned, “The staff at Freeform are incredible people and it was an honor to work with them. Because the campaign for Season 1 went so well, they brought me on to do it again for Season 2. I loved every minute of those jobs!”
Rothenberg now has a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn as well as a couple of projects in the works.
“I’m currently working on a mural design for NBC which will be up in Brooklyn in October,” she said. “I’ve even thought about doing a studio sale.”
She also has a greeting card line that is sold in stores nationwide as well as in Canada. A list of stockists that carry Rothenberg’s greeting card line can be located on her website, violetclair.com/greeting-cards.
By Aida Toro