Thursday, August 23, 2007

How To Peel A Grape...

No, this is an Asian pear sitting on 2 chopsticks.
Or rather it's a "spot" illustration of an Asian pear.

For three years I did line illustrations for the the Q & A cookery questions - in the back of the book (as they call it) at Gourmet Magazine.

The idea is - they send you the text and title,
and you come up with an amusing way illustration, almost like a mini-cartoon. For example: How To Peel A Grape. It's called conceptual illustration. Kind of like being on the couch (the shrink's couch) but they pay you to free-associate.

As one who free-associates all the time, this was right up my alley :) You take the words in the title and see what comes to mind. Words, images any thing will do, but it should be fun! I can't remember how many times I've used a French beret to solve an illustration problem - was it a precursor of what was to come? Frenchiness has taken over my life.

If you do spot illustrations, eventually you get to illustrate some cookbooks. That means you actually might have to cook, or at least photograph some setups that look like you're cooking. These are from an Italian cookbook.

Here's what a page of conceptual doodles would look like. They don't have these in Gourmet anymore. A regime change and out went the little drawings and in came the glossy photographs. Meanwhile I sold my appartment and started to "play" the stock market. I found I could make the same money in a few minutes while day trading. And lose it even faster too :(

So that was the end of my spot illustration days. But next time you bite into a pita think camel, think dessert, NO, wait no I mean DESERT! Oh whatev


  1. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Wonderful, Carol. It's amazing how magazines have changed and glossed up. I still love the illustrations, though, and as a matter of fact, I once bought a magazine SOLELY for the one page profiling the editor, every month, which had a watercolor in it! Didn't care a hoot for anything else in there, but loved that, and I bought it. As for you and day-trading, that's what my (now deceased) husband did, for a while,...until he got smart, and realized how crazy it was!;))

  2. Loved the French Steer. I too have bought cookbooks for the Doodles and Art work in them. Cook? You're supposed to use them to cook with? ;-)

  3. For a girl you've quite a CV to offer!

    I have climbed the steps to the upper shelf of my bookcase and pulled down a stack of Gourmet Magazines. Before I pull all of them down, I thought I better ask during which years you illustrated them (you don't want me to spend my evening down on the floor immersed in Gourmet, do you? - I have already seen one article about Rome which I didn't remember and have got to read asap *g*).

    I am still dreaming about your rose post.

  4. FOR A GIRL...?
    MERISI I must take umbrage with that!
    Look in the late 90's issues

  5. Anonymous12:51 PM

    I love your whymsical illustrations!
    I only wish you had illustrated my cookbook...

  6. you've had the coolest jobs!

  7. Anonymous9:37 PM

    Love your spot illustrations and I'm sure I've seen many - I subscribed to Gourmet for many, many years, but quit about 10 years ago when the mail got to be too much to keep up with.

  8. I am sorry, Carol,
    "for a girl" is really not what I meant to say. I'll try to be more reflective before I comment.
    All I wanted to say is you have accomplished so much, and I am in awe.

  9. Sometime you'll have to compile a comprehensive list of all your vast talents and experiences! It will be a formidable thing to behold, I'm sure!

  10. lucious, simple yet complex lines making such funny personal comments...bring back illustration, more and more, it humanises a too glossy world.
    Hoorah for these, they are lovely.

  11. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Oohh, I've always wished I could draw! Seeing these illustrations makes me yearn again to have that skill, that talent. You are very lucky, my girl! You've used it well.

    I particularly like the bottom image, The Lowdown on Lavash. To me it shows your maturity as an artist as you show the 'essence' of the message. I like it very much. Of course, I also like all your other illustrations and paintings too, and the stories that go with them, otherwise I would not come back! ;~)

  12. Remember the days when all the best cook books were illustrated with lovely little witty drawings like yours?
    Photography is great but I love my old Elizabeth Davids, Jane Grigsons and the rest.
    I would have missed this post but for the extra 'you may also like' boxes.


Love hearing from you