Introducing: Our New, Artist-Illustrated Tote Bag Series (+ the First Design!)

June 28, 2016

There are artists and designers we love. And there are artists and designers who get us. Claudia Pearson, an illustrator living and working in Brooklyn, New York, is both. Her bright and cheery tea towels, calendars, and kitchen linens—featuring friendly renderings of seasonal produce, kitchen tools, and comfort foods—are things you want to look at everyday. They make it feel like the sun is always shining.

Bringing Claudia on as a Shop maker in 2014 (when we started by selling her Buy Local calendar and a favorite print of ours) was a no-brainer. And we were pleased as punch when more recently, she asked to illustrate an exclusive design just for Food52.

The new limited-edition Food52 tote, featuring Claudia's design! Photo by Bobbi Lin

A vegetarian since age 16, Claudia has always felt strongly about eating local and seasonally—“I’ve always shopped at the farmer’s market!” she said, and expressed dismay about the thought of eating a strawberry in the winter. “It’s important to know where your food comes from, to create relationships with the farmers who worked so hard to bring you the food you’re eating.” And though she's worked as an illustrator ever since moving to New York in 1994, Claudia didn't branch out to illustrating food until nearly a decade later. We're so glad she did!

As it turns out, Claudia's a fan of ours, too (cue blushing)—she attended our first-ever Makers Conference at our office last year and “fell in love with the space.” (When asked what she’d choose to take for herself from the Food52 office, she hesitated not a second, crying, “I know what it is!” before citing the turned wood acacia lamp shades that hang in our test kitchen). When she came by recently to talk about the new collaboration, we gave her free reign to snap pictures of all our nooks and crannies for inspiration.

With the help of our stellar Shop team, Claudia landed on creating an exclusive illustrated tote as the perfect way to showcase her work. It's finally live in our Shop, only available through Food52.

Our test kitchen's pendant lamps that Claudia loved, and the open shelves that inspired her design. Photo by Mark Weinberg

A line drawing screen-printed simply in white against a navy tote, the design captures one of the best-loved features of our office: the open shelving lining the back of our test kitchen, full of vintage props and treasured cookware. “I’ve always loved old kitchen tools,” Claudia said. “Their shapes, the way they look.” And for us, it's like the best game of I Spy ever: There’s our bundt pan! The vintage potato masher! The glass cake stand!

The illustration captures our mix of old and new, traditional and modern, and our love of beautiful, timeless tools that (most importantly) help us get the job done in the kitchen.

Close up of tote bag design, inspired by our open shelves. Photo by Rocky Luten

Seeing Food52 through Claudia’s eyes got us thinking: What would other illustrators and artists choose to draw (or paint) if asked to depict Food52? A tote had been the perfect blank canvas for Claudia—how would some of the other designers we love and admire tackle the challenge?

With that in mind, we’ve launched the Food52 Illustrated Tote Series, with Claudia as our opening act! Every season, we’ll release a new tote bag featuring the work of a different artist. You’ll get to know him or her, and you’ll get to know us through their pencil, pen, or paintbrush. Our office design is a mix of vintage pieces and modern basics (yes, we shop at Ikea, too!)—and the same goes for our Shop. We’ve got copper pieces that are a hundred+ years old, but with a turn (click?) of a page, you’ll also find sleek pepper mills and unexpected dinnerware silhouettes.

The Food52 Illustrated Tote Series embodies that same idea: that Food52 is not just one thing, but many!

A few more of Claudia's illustrations, from our Shop.

Keep a look out for the next in the series, and collect ‘em all! Think of it as a our version of a stamp collection. But sooooo much better.

Who are your favorite illustrators? Share in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Olivia Bloom

Written by: Olivia Bloom

Has a soft spot for string cheese.