Sarah and I have been really taken aback by how much of a “thing” our Cupcake poster has turned out to be; we’ve gotten heaps of incredible emails from people all over the world about it, some of whom have asked us about extending the idea to other “Anatomy of…” pieces. One inquiry along these lines came from Anthology Magazine, a Bay Area lifestyle magazine. Creative Director Meg Mateo Ilasco wrote mentioning she’d seen our cupcake poster and felt the vibe of it fit with an upcoming springtime issue of their magazine, themed “Wit and Whimsy”. Her idea was to include an article featuring some recipes for “something”, and for Sarah and I to create a piece of artwork thematically-related to whatever that “something” was.
This idea resonated with Sarah and I; I asked Meg if–rather than just designing a poster–we could be allowed to design the entire article. Sarah and I both love cooking, and the idea of developing a recipe or two, writing an article about them, and designing complimentary artwork seemed like a fun challenge that covered several of our interests. Meg agreed to this, and Sarah and I were left to figure out what we wanted our theme to be.
After several days of brainstorming, we landed on ice cream; it was simple and visually-interesting, fun to write about and easy to picture as a subject for an “Anatomy of…”-style piece. While I started doing research into recipes, Sarah started sketching what our “Anatomy of Ice Cream” piece might look like.
We came up with a list of ingredients that were colorful and fun, then went shopping. Once home, we spread brown butcher paper on our dining room table and started roughing out where the ingredients would be placed. Many of the candies and the peanut butter were oily and would seep dark spots into the paper, which made moving them around a big problem, so we first roughly arranged them on wax paper for placement before committing each ingredient to a particular location.
We wanted to create everything in-camera, just as we had for the cupcake poster. For the bottom row (“things you’d serve ice cream in/on”), we cut things like apple pie, cookies, and cones in half so that when we shot the arrangement from the top down, they would look as though they were coming out of the paper itself. For the eggs, I used a tool called an “egg topper” to neatly pop off the tips of the eggs so we could see the interior yolk while also seeing the shell. We balanced these on some small tubes we made from strips of the butcher paper. After most things were ‘plated’ we went around with tweezers carefully-aligning things like the chocolate chips and coffee beans, even going so far as to ensure all of the folded tips of the chocolate chips pointed in the same direction.
Once we photographed the main piece, we needed to break everything down and rearrange things for two other pieces. Meg mentioned she wanted one page where we talk a little about our process and why we chose ice cream as a theme, and we needed another backdrop for the page that would contain the recipes themselves. The former was to be a two-column presentation, with text covering half the page and a nice big photo covering the other. We carefully arranged several layers of ‘sprinkles’ in a martini glass, topped that with some vanilla ice cream, and Sarah drizzled chocolate from high above. We had to do it just right or risk having to throw everything out and start again. Thankfully Sarah’s aim is pretty true, and we got a nice photo out of it.
We tried a few ideas for the final page of our spread, and presented Anthology with three options. We wanted to subtly convey that part of the fun of setting all this up was getting to eat it when we were done shooting it. We laid out some ingredients carefully again, photographed them, then started eating our way through it all, pausing to shoot in-progress images as we went. Sarah laid out some proxy text on each of these candidates to help Anthology visualize how they might use them.
For the recipes, we each chose a flavor we wanted to explore and worked out a recipe for each. Sarah chose vanilla and came up with a great custard-based recipe using vanilla beans and egg yolks, and I chose to try a raspberry and lavender-infused goat’s milk ice cream. The editors tested our recipes themselves and after a bit of tweaking and honing the wording of each recipe deemed them ready for print. We submitted everything, then waited. About a month later, Meg mailed us two printed issues of the magazine so we could see how our stuff turned out…pretty exciting!
Finally, here’s our own copy of the finished piece.