We aren’t the only ones out there combining the worlds of food and illustration. W8H recently caught up with Alya Markova, the creative mind behind Cartoon Cooking.
W8H:What’s your inspiration?
Alya: Anything may turn into inspiration:) Sometimes it is an image of an awesome gigantic sandwich. Sometimes it is a funny experience, an experiment in the kitchen, a song or a person. But mostly, the food itself. It becomes inspiration in the very moment you’ve cooked something yummy for somebody and you see that joyful face while he/she’s tasting it:)
W8H: How did the blog start?
Alya: Cartoon Cooking started much before the blog as you know it today. Drawing recipes began in my sketchbooks just as notes. That was the easiest way not to forget how a recipe goes – drawing the steps. One day, when I was starting to draw digitally, I just drew one of the recipes “more carefully”, as an illustration – I thought, “it doesn’t look bad” and decided to start a blog full of these illustrations:)
W8H: Despite quite a broad illustration portfolio, Cartoon Cooking seems to be the biggest project. Why so?
Alya: Cartoon Cooking is the most personal one. Everything I post there is like a part of a “cookery diary”, even when I’m trying an ingredient or a new product that a brand has sent to me – we bloggers are the lucky ones:) It always is in a very “cartoon-cooking-way” – and that’s why it never get’s too serious. I Can’t help it… even macarons are easier if you see them jumping around:) I suppose that’s the reason why I don’t get bored drawing recipes.
W8H: What’s your favorite food? Favorite restaurant?
Alya: Chestnuts! French croissants… gnocchi…. Italian food is a little weakness of mine. And My Mother’s -Greatest Apple Strudel 🙂
Favorite restaurant… hmm. The one where you get to the dessert and you expect it to be glorious. And they bring that lemon pie, and glorious isn’t enough to describe it!
W8H: How often do you cook?
Alya: Every time I want to eat.
W8H: What’s your favorite recipe? What dish can you prepare best?
Alya: Oh my… too many answers for that. I adore a warm slice of bread a bit toasted with some butter and salt… is that a recipe?
A favorite one could be risotto… chestnut risotto. And I believe it’s also one of my food loving friend’s favorites when I prepare it ^_^
W8H: What in recipes inspires you?
Alya: I’m afraid my cookery mood is unpredictable:)…. I love tiny little recipes with just a few ingredients, which combined taste amazing. I like simplicity. But it’s also inspiring to open that gorgeous fat book, the one with classic french pastry recipes, and get involved in a Saturday night extreme cooking practice with an unknown end… or flavor. Challenges are also inspiring! Even impossible combinations – broccoli desserts and things. That can be an inspiration too… or just hunger!
W8H: When do you know that you will draw the recipe?
Alya: The answer is: if I want to prepare it, I want to draw it.
W8H: How does the connection between cooking and drawing work for you? Do you look for recipes that might be fun to draw or are you drawing only the recipes you liked?
Alya: Any recipe is fun to draw – it even happens that an apparently boring recipe turns exciting when drawn. I don’t choose recipes thinking of drawing them – but thinking of trying them. My stomach is the one who makes that choice. It isn’t a very creative start for a drawing, but it works:) And if they are delicious, then they go to the drawing list.
W8H: Every time you draw a recipe, do you always cook it as well?
Alya: Always! I admit: sometimes before, other times after, but I always eat my drawn dishes!
W8H: When it comes to drawing, is food your only focus or do you have other major interests?
Alya: Food is the focus in Cartoon Cooking. Outside the blog, I’m still a good eater, but of course, it isn’t all about food. Music and dancing are a special weakness for me, a break, and a main motivation. Not because I draw music or dancing, but because they make drawing better. Boys have the same effect 🙂 The rest depends most of the time on the kind of assignment. Illustration is also work, so it isn’t always related to my major interests (and thank goodness!). Otherwise, there would be a dancing cheerios party in my head.
W8H: What kind of media do you use? Traditional or digital or both? Can you describe your drawing process?
Alya: I normally use a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. I sketch and paint digitally – but still use paper when I’m thinking. And still have my little scrapbook, of course. So, first is thinking, doodling, writing things, words… watching a movie… just letting ideas take a walk around my mind. When it’s clear, then comes sketching the approximate composition. After that, inking and putting some color. I do all of it digitally, but it’s only a question of saving time (when I have to deal with deadlines). I don’t discard going back to traditional illustration… who knows.
W8H: Was the book “Recetas Y Viñetas” a personal project or did someone else come up with the idea?
Alya: Recetas & Viñetas was at the very beginning just a wish of mine – it didn’t even have a name. I just wanted to make a book with drawn recipes. I had that idea, but it only came about because the people at the publishing house (LID Editorial) contacted me. They put the Spanish cook Juan Pozuelo and I in touch and asked us if we would like to make a book together – his recipes and my illustrations in a cookbook. For me, in some way, it stayed very personal.
W8H: Would you like to collaborate in some other projects like this one?
Alya: I already have and I also am right now ^_^ Last winter, another book was published with cookery stuff too, but this time for kids. It’s been published in Bulgaria by a small publishing house. Called Tochitza (translated: “Little Dot” or “Dotty”), it tells the story of two little boys who travel through the country and share their adventures while tasting food at each place they end up. Now, I’m working on the next one which will be about kids, grammar and ice-cream:) The rest is top-secret 😮
W8H: If you could eat any piece of artwork, what would it be and why?
Alya: If I eat a Joann Sfar comic will I digest it as a “productivity protein” ??? I would also eat yummy title spreads then.
***A big thanks to Alya for her kind contributions to W8H. Not only did she give us a very entertaining interview, but she provided the wonderful illustrations in this post. Be sure to check out her blog!