At the start of this year I decided to take a break from journaling (which I’d been doing for the previous 3 years) and instead concentrate on producing some new illustrations for my Etsy shop including a set of illustrated recipes. I had done some very sketchy recipes in one of my journals, but I knew I could do better, and had been hugely inspired by some I’d come across on Pinterest.
I did some sketches, mainly text with small pictures in between, scrapped them, started again, making the illustrations bigger and bolder to fill the space, introduced some kitchen utensils, I tried to show the process involved, and eventually worked it up digitally to produce my first recipe. A simple broccoli and Stilton soup.
A few weeks later I produced a recipe for a winter veg and gnocchi bake, this time introducing a few arrows to show what should go where, and reducing the amount of text in the instructions. Simplicity is always my aim. By the time I did my 3rd recipe – rhubarb and almond muffins – I knew I’d cracked it. By illustrating all the ingredients with labels to give the quantities, and showing what to do with them, where they should go, and using arrows to guide you through the process, along with very simple instructions such as ‘add, mix, whisk, melt’ etc., there was no need for a long set of instructions, i.e. the method. Call me lazy, but if a recipe involves first reading through an essay in how to do it, I’m already put off, mainly because I can’t keep all the information in my brain, and have to keep going back and forth reading through the recipe as I go along. These illustrated recipes can be seen and understood at a glance, making them easy enough even for children to grasp. They are admittedly pretty simple recipes to start with, but I hope my simplified style makes them even easier to understand.
I went on to produce another 3 recipes in the same style, and then I went back to my first two and redesigned them to match, so they all have a unified look and work together as a set.
The full set of recipes are available as A4 prints for framing, and I have also turned them into a packaged set of A5 sized recipe cards. The recipes are printed onto glossy photo paper and then backed with thick, recycled card, making them super sturdy. On the back of each one are some extra notes which give a few extra hints and tips, and some suggestions for alternative ingredients. They’re packaged together in a recycled cardboard folder so you can pop them on your bookshelf along with your cookbooks.
I’m very proud of them, they’ve been a lot of work, but a lot of fun too, and I love that they’re completely unique, pretty to look at, but oh so practical too. I think a lot of people see illustration as being a purely decorative thing, but I hope I’ve shown here how it can be so much more. And I love that I’m always learning and improving with every new creative project, it makes it all worthwhile.
As for journaling, I’ll be right back on it next year and I can’t wait. I have so many ideas, so much more that I want to do there apart from documenting the allotment. It’s been good to have a break from that, because sometimes it’s only when you take a step back that you can see more clearly the way forward.
I will do a little end of year review of the allotment before the year is out, but in the meantime, do check out Etsy as part of your Christmas shopping this year. Not just my shop, but all of the wonderfully talented crafters and artists that sell there. They make items with love and care, that you won’t find anywhere else, and I know for a fact that every one of them does a little happy dance when they get a sale. You’ll make the seller happy, the gift recipient happy, and it will therefore make you happy too, it’s a win, win, win!