'They Draw & Cook' Co-Founders to Discuss Overlapping Worlds of Food, Art

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Cleveland’s food scene and arts community are growing in unprecedented ways. Fans of art and food are sure to enjoy the Northern Ohio Illustrator Society’s upcoming presentation, They Draw & Cook: A Creative Playground with Salli S. Swindell.

Swindell, who lives in Hudson, co-founded They Draw & Cook, an online illustrated cookbook featuring an archive of more than 5,500 illustrated recipes from around the world. The group boasts a Facebook following of more than a quarter-million people. Swindell will discuss the project at the Cleveland Institute of Art (Room 408) this Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m.

“I will be sharing a few stories about my journey as an illustrator and how Nate and I came to be studio partners,” Swindell says. “Since starting They Draw & Cook and They Draw & Travel our careers have moved in unexpected directions and we’ve become part of an amazing community. I will also talk about what Nate and I refer to as Creative Playgrounds and the importance they play — pun intended — in an artist’s personal and professional career development. Oh that sounds so stuffy! Mostly it’s about the surprising outcomes and the fun!”

The project was co-founded by Swindell and her brother Nate Padavick. Since its creation, They Draw & Cook has inspired a Food Network-sponsored recipe contest, and publisher Weldon Owen printed a collection of They Draw & Cook illustrated recipes.

“The idea came about on a very fun family vacation that involved Nate making Fettucine and Figs in a Butter Balsamic Sauce while I sat at the counter drawing the crate of fresh figs,” Swindell remembers. “We eventually decided that it would be cool to collaborate with other artists and create a small book of illustrated recipes to give family, friends and clients. While waiting for the last long overdue illustration from one particular artist Nate decided to put the eight recipes we had on a blog and called it They Draw & Cook. It all happened within 10 minutes! We went from eight recipes in February 2010 to our current total of almost 6,000 amazing illustrated recipes from artists all around the world."

She continues: “The day after Nate created the blog we received an illustrated recipe for M&M Casserole. At that moment we decided that They Draw & Cook would be a platform for both professional artists and amateur doodlers to showcase their work. We are a very community-driven site and very international. We quickly went from a blog format to a fully interactive website thanks to the team at Neoteric Design in Chicago. At least once a week we receive an email from an artist telling us that their work was spotted by an art director wanting to hire them for a project. How awesome is that?! What started as a simple idea for nine of us to find new clients turned into a platform for thousands of artists to connect with new clients.”

Additionally Swindell and Padavick have published smaller books by individual artists, who earn 50 percent of sales. Learn more about this project and more at this free, public lecture.

“I'm excited about this presentation,” says NOIS President Ron Hill. “This is exactly the kind of thing NOIS members and illustrators need to be doing: using technology creatively, to think outside the usual ways of getting commissioned work. Illustrators today need to create their own work opportunities. I'm hoping to hear about how this web site did just that, and at the same time it becomes a vehicle for promoting illustration in other media. The days of magazine covers and advertising posters are gone; maybe not completely, but there are so many new places for creative illustrators to sell their skills. I hope this is a useful presentation for our seasoned members as well as the fresh art school students. We like partnering with Cleveland Institute of Art a couple times a year, it's part of NOIS's mission.”

(Cleveland Institute of Art) 11610 Euclid Ave, Room 408, 216-421-7000, cia.edu, nois.com

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