The Artful Kitchen series is back with Christmas Greetings and a look at Jessie Oleson's Cakespy. If you're not already a regular visitor you've been missing a delightful mix of sugar sleuthing and art and you need to go and add it to your favorites right now.
Jessie, the artistic mastermind behind Cakespy, attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she studied Illustration. Her most widely recognized work (in the foodblog world, anyway) is of her adorable little Cupcake Guy.
She uses a two-step process for this series. First she draws with pen and ink.
And then she washes in with watercolor. Jessie explains that she does not sketch out her cupcake drawings. She has found that they maintain a certain spontaneity when laid down directly in ink which is lost when too much pre-sketching is put into it, and adds, "If I mess up, I just scrap it..."
Jessie provides some backstory to explain the psyche of her cupcake character here, explaining that he was made with a bit of leftover cake batter and has always had a chip on his shoulder about being the afterthought baked good. She adds (in answer to my probing question) "L'il Cuppie is not presently tied down. I tend to think he plays the field, and have noticed him looking at not only other cupcakes but also a doughnut or two. But never a muffin. There's some rivalry there."
Jessie's interest in all things cupcake began when she was little. "My mom used to make these elaborate 3-tier birthday cakes for us, and with the leftover batter would make cupcakes. These were extra-special because though we had to wait for the cake, the cupcakes were an immediate treat. That has to be what started it all."
While at Pratt, Jessie had a period of happy experimentation painting with cake frosting and candy for many of her assignments. "It was, I guess, my foray into "installation" type art because not only was it visual but they smelled so good. I would love to do more of this type of art but I think that the perishable aspect keeps it at bay."
Jessie's work isn't limited to the illustrations you'll see at Cakespy. She sometimes turns to acrylics and oils ("it's kind of more like working with frosting!") as way of stepping out of the boundaries of the Cupcake Guy world (don't tell him, though!). Happily for me, I snapped up this marvelous moody strawberry shortcake as soon as I saw it at Jessie's etsy store.
And this elegant slice of pumpkin pie was shipped to my sister (Merry Christmas, Lisa!).
Out in the non-foodblog world, Jessie works as a product manager and art director for ipop, the company manufacturing these magnets (available at Sur la Table, Borders, Papyrus and all sorts of independent retailers).
Thanks, Jessie, for taking the time to answer my questions, and for allowing Redacted Recipes to feature you. You know how we love our food art!