I love a good kohlrabi. I am equally content immersing myself in its contours and characteristics, exploring its earthiness while rendering its charmingly lumpy shape, as I am chopping it up to roast with some fellow roots veggies (particularly excellent with curry powder). I know I am very much not alone in my obsession with food and cooking, as any quick trip to the blogosphere or Pinterest will indicate. Food is one of those universally uniting forces, which is part of why I so appreciate it, being a community-minded soul, loving to bring people together around a table. But in my guilty moments, I feel my devotion is misguided. Shouldn’t I be obsessed with Art? Shouldn’t I be poring over design books rather than cookbooks? I am and I do (a particular obsession being typography, and a particular bit of literary love being Simon Garfield’s Just My Type).
The thing is, I don’t tend to much distinguish between the two.
I am a visual and a culinary artist. Both spark my imagination and creative passion. Both require a visualization of an end product and—the way I cook at least—an exploratory and meditative process of getting there that usually does not manifest according to original plan but rather according to inspiration and experimentation. Both require deep appreciation of the subject/ingredients at hand in order to yield appealing results. Both nourish, be it body or soul, or both. Both provide some kind of control and order to the chaos around us—a rootedness through a well rounded meal or a distilled focus on a single subject matter.
Cooking provides a relatively instantly gratifying act of creativity after a day of painstaking drawing or design troubleshooting. I apply much of my creative personality and aesthetic sensibility that I’ve cultivated in my art education to cooking, but lately I have realized how much my passion for food influences my art and chosen career. I draw a lot of food. I’m always trying to capture the culture and ethos of the places in which I find myself, and here in Maine much of that centers around food and agriculture. I also try to capture food’s vitality, the quiet but powerful life it has absorbed from sun and soil. Beyond that, the crux of the intersection of my artistic and culinary pursuits is people.
I made the career decision to design for food-based businesses—among others in the community—because I wanted to be involved in creative acts that bring people together. And as precedent shows, food does so. Food is art, art is food. It’s all the same to me. Both require creative skill which, when applied with intention, nourish and bring people together, thus improving the world, however incrementally.