A Word of Thanks

Beyond being a one day tribute to delicious food, Thanksgiving is a good reminder to be grateful. In having the most bountiful year of my career, I've acquired a new camera, proper overhead rig and lighting setup to extend my daily studio hours. I've been fortunate to encounter more extravagant projects with experimental and trusting clients, supplying the most helpful and supportive creative feedback.

Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to reflect on change but also on things that are steadfast. Often when I write for my food typography accounts, I speak in a majestic "we," despite being neither queenly nor corporate. Rather, I choose to allow space for the amazing assistants, photographers, videographers, and friends that make my work better than I could muster alone. 

In lieu of the above new work, I wanted to thank the many hands that have contributed to my sense of self, creatively and personally. I am forever indebted to the delightful humans listed below:

The Wonder Jam

I'll shoot my own work when reproduced on a small print/web scale, but I know when to call the pros. Allie and Adam Lehman are the husband and wife duo behind the Columbus boutique agency, The Wonder Jam, and the backbone of several of my wildest projects. Many afternoons have waxed slaving over their dining room table and warehouse, always at a fair price and with generous hospitality. Beyond lending me their photographic skills, the pair also write, host classes, design, and strategize for every size of business, local and abroad. Their passion for Columbus entrepreneurship is overwhelming, evidenced in the strength of the community they've built. I'm honored to call them friends and colleagues. 

Erin Robey

I usually work with an assistant on large shoots with tight deadlines, and Erin is one of my favorite (and a good friend). She's whip-smart, eager, and supplements her sourcing and styling skills with her love of photography. She's been kind enough to shoot from awkward angles, juggle multiple pieces of foam core, slice cartons of tomatoes when I've only needed two, and brave endless traffic to make up for my miscalculations on supplies. I've been lucky enough to snag her on several of my larger shoots, and I find her presence both entertaining and reassuring when stress begins to creep. 


The crew at Reach has been such a fantastic addition to my team this year. They have brought their expertise and acumen to my work, peppered with fun and always looking on the brightest side. Despite their burgeoning roster, Erik and Ben have made me feel like I'm one of a select few, always a priority. I hope to possess Erik's precision of language and enjoy celebrating jobs with him and the rest of the team. Their artists reflect Reach's careful considerations and tastes, and I'm honored to share solidarity with many on their list. 

Countless others

Whether over my shoulder putting helping hands to a project or providing encouragement from afar, my list of contributing friends could stretch onward for miles. Abundant thanks to my former overhead rig and unwelcome but accurate art director, Jarrod; I'm forever grateful to Allan Peters for taking a chance on this weird girl from Ohio that plays with food; Scott Hull for fostering the beginnings of my career with his vast experience; Joseph Alessio, Shauna Lynn, Mikey Burton, Melissa Hagmaier, Heidi & Asim Ahmed, and Yao Cheng, Trisha & Mackey Saturday for their endless support and comradery. 

Big thank you's to Circles, Creative South, Weapons of Mass Creation and the various schools and chapters that graciously hosted my talks this year. I love empowering others to play while working. Thank you for fostering this within your communities and allowing me to participate.

Finally, thank you to my friends and family outside of the creative community who have taken the biggest leap to understand and support "that food art thing." Thank you for celebrating the unique weirdness of my work and vision. 

All my love this season,

To see a detailed shot of the header image, visit my THANKSgiving Food Type project.

Boo You Whore Free Desktop & iPhone Wallpaper

Mean Trills Boo You Whore by Danielle Evans

Tina Fey is a comedic genius for many reasons, but her crowning achievement, Mean Girls, defined the high school experience for a generation. I've teamed up with Shauna Pancyzsyzn and other Plastics to recreate Fey's dry one liners in various lettering styles. The project, coined Mean Trills, is a love letter to glib put-downs and esoteric jokes often developed in dense hallways and under stadium bleachers.

As always, I love mixing food and lettering and couldn't neglect a change to celebrate one of Rachel McAdams's most enduring lines. I've decided to release this installment as a free desktop and iPhone wallpaper set to make the holiday bright for that girl who dresses like a total slut on Halloween. None of the other girls can say anything about it. You do you.

2880x1800 // 1800x1800 // 1920x1080 // 1336x768 // iPhone 5/5+ // iPhone 6 // iPhone 6+

To see more fetch contributions, check out Mean Trills on tumblr. 

Environmentally Friendly: The Spaces that Define Us

I've spent much of the past summer traveling to exciting new places, but as the old adage says, nothing quite compares to home. Columbus is a decently sized city, ranked 15th largest city in the US and was fortunate not to find itself on the backs of steel industry. This has allowed Ohio's capital to morph over a bicentennial into one of its most beautiful, clean, and progressive cities.

I know I'm home when my shoes make that familiar hollow click-clack on my neighborhood's brick sidewalks, the hum of the highway fills void between chirping birds and barks of the canine residents. Despite sounding sleepy and quaint, Columbus is teeming with entrepreneurs and fast flying ideas. European immigrant bloodlines still run deep here, so the work ethic here is founded on a strong back and can-do attitude, rewarded by a graciously low cost of living.

Our environment directly influences our work in the same way that Pinterest boards or historic references enhance or diminish our portfolio's strengths and weaknesses. As I've become more comfortable in my lettering style, this becomes more apparent even in my interior design decisions. We draw from our surroundings, and in turn they draw from us for future occupants.

Below is a lovely video interview by Aaron Freeder for Weapons of Mass Creation as well as a grassroots podcast from Spirit of the Midwest unpacking more ideas about our environments affecting our creative output. 

The Beginnings of Food Typography

French Press, the beginning of a tactile train of design thought.

I've recently reflected over the #foodtypography and #foodtype hashtags I popularized on Instagram, seeing them grow to almost a thousand posts a piece. I get a little warm inside realizing food typography has wafted across the globe, wetting taste buds and turning edible substances into design media. In the spirit of nostalgia, a little over two years to the date of my first post, I've decided to revisit food type's humble beginnings.


Lettering as an experience

As a new freelancer, I had determined to pursue lettering with all my might, but knew my vector forms were, well, flat. I saw the best designers were engaging their audiences across multi-sensory platforms and wondered how to do this myself. I sat down at a coffee shop with a good educator friend and struggled for a jargon-less way to explain this inkling. As I wrapped my hands around my mug, I came up with this analogy:

"Good design is like a cup of coffee. Beyond consuming a beverage, the consumer feels heat from the cup, texture of milk or foam, breathes in the smell- the drink is an experience apart from necessity."

My friend, being literal, suggested I make artwork out of coffee. This was, in fact, a great idea.

Respective work by Lauren Hom and Kyle Read.

Food type had been used sparingly as one-offs in the past, all of which utilized the materials incidentally without applying a typographer's touch. The novelty of food as lettering trumped the presentation and legibility of the forms. I chose to apply my background in illustration, sculpting, and painting to create letterforms with dimension, play of light and edges, and happenstance flourishes with personality. After an extensive internet search for this concept, I found nothing in existence bearing resemblance to my vision. This was quite the surprise, my opportunity to contribute something new, for which I excitedly began creating and buying URLs.


Food Lettering NOT Food Type

Not being a total novice to the lettering game, I thought long and hard about what to call myself. I had made five images before realizing there wasn't a consistent name for this style of work and was struggling to tag my pieces. Allan Peters and I and labored over a my title in Target's Food for Thought video but couldn't find the right fit. Food letterer sounded awful, typographer was by definition incorrect, and stylist sold my talents short.

In the end Food Typographer won out for two reasons: 1) At the time I realized the common person would better understand typography over lettering and 2) typography could be tagged as the full word or its abbreviated form, type. This misnomer is now laughable but has assured widespread acceptance and twice the social reach of the proper term.

Despite the coining this term, I have no plans to create typefaces, as I find they have obvious setbacks. Photographic typefaces would be heavily limited in their size capabilities and could only function as header text, losing the object's legibility at smaller sizes. Larger sizes for billboards would require higher ppi resolutions and excessive post production to fit seamlessly on different backgrounds. Rarely do I use typefaces or fonts to influence my work, instead relying on the materials to dictate the best course. I've chosen a symbiotic relationship with my materials, suggesting rather than forcing their direction. Lettering allows for incidental flourishes and ligatures associated with calligraphy, the true nature of my work.


Form to Table

I'd like to pretend I began with a clever notion of using food for existential purposes, but in reality I was broke and unable to afford supplies. Initially I bought ingredients with the hope of scraping them back into the container to consume later, literally eating my words.  After creating several pieces, I realized my work was evoking memories for my viewers, times spent around the dinner table, in the garden, their hands working on a favorite meal or cherished project. Eating is communal and inherently universal in experience, and the work flourished online, touching photographers, illustrators, mom bloggers, and businessmen. 

My storytelling has always been subtle; harnessing the message of food and directness of lettering gave viewers different levels of experience: scanning, chewing, and consumption. A viewer could scan and read the word or phrase instantly because the letterforms were properly constructed, chew on the relationship between the word and the chosen substance, or consume the clever and subtle relationships between the copy, food, and propping like a layered onion. Exploring these relationships made for a new and different expression, one many could sink their teeth into excitedly.


Carving a Niche, Spreading the Love

I began developing a style to explain my process and showcase the final images, all of which had practical applications. Top down shots became my delivery method of choice, but I relished the opportunity to show low side angles to prove my work was done in analog. Because I often had bowls of ingredients or handfuls of the materials nearby, I started placing these items into frame to tell the story of my workspace. In many of the final images or videos, my hands appear in the shot to give scale to the workspace. These techniques became popular ways to document and embellish this style of work, but the concepts were rooted in practicality.

With confidence in my expertise of various materials, I've begun giving workshops to help others expand their own conceptual processes. I'm less interested in teaching students to reproduce my work and more concerned with providing outlets to explore new ideas across mediums. Together we tackle the difficult task of letting go of control, leveraging our strengths to hone our weaknesses, and accepting limitations. My students attempt their own idea or a provided phrase and set to work with their hands for approximately an hour; once their idea is fleshed out to 80% completion, I offer some criticism and allow them to tweak their images for a final shot. Because my work is most often used in social media, we upload the finished projects to Instagram, united under a hashtag for viewers to appreciate. My Orlando workshop at Real Thread utilized #createWOW; for Creative South in Columbus, Georgia, we opted for #CS15wordplay. My next workshop takes place in Cleveland's Weapons of Mass Creation, exact timing to follow. I'd love to word play with you!

  Photo by  Alicja Colon .

Photo by Alicja Colon.

Respective workshop examples by Clark Orr, Cingol20, and James Michael.

This project has been on the design community radar for some time, but only recently have I begun seeing legitimate offshoots with their own audience and message. I was approached by and wholeheartedly approve Enon Avital's, Hebrew Type, a great example combining the beauty of Hebrew characters and Jewish tradition. I am honored by the gesture and happy to support similar endeavors.


Bending the Rules

While food type and food typography have been great successes, I've only tapped a fraction of my materials. Inedible objects are just as fascinating and posses equal capability to stun and surprise. I've begun a new tag, #dimensionaltype, which is already beginning to pick up steam. My lettering is more than the words they convey; I create thoughtful typographic solutions out of commonplace items. The world speaks to me in beziers and strokes, all of which are waiting to be wrangled.

My client projects utilizing paint pigment for SAA and bed sheets for Aria and a personal project for #adventype using Christmas lights. 

For more insight into my process and work, visit my instagram accounts @marmaladebleue and @foodtypography, my tumblr, or my twitter accounts @marmaladebleue and @foodtypography.  A post script of detailed beginnings and additional thoughts can be found in this thorough article by Go Media.