Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places. More often than not, it is a product of aesthetic experience or, in other words, being moved – moments where we are truly open and genuinely present in the here and now. Indeed, the accumulation of a lifetime of these experiences compels us to find inspiration in all things and, more importantly, to create something out of it.
At the 15th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (28 June 2013), culistrator (culinary illustrator) Janneke Hoeben drew an unconventional link between food and fashion, proving that design can also be delicious. As fashion designer-turned-culistrator and founder of kitchen textile label Commis de Cuisine, this all-round creative serves as artistic intermediary between the best of both worlds. Combining her love for fashion and illustration with all things culinary, she firmly believes that culistration is where food and fashion meet.
“Fashion starts at a very high level,” Hoeben says. Seasonal trends trickle down from haute couture and designer labels to ready-to-wear mass production. The same can also be said for food. As a matter of fact, the avant-garde culinary movements and innovations in haute cuisine are increasingly replicated by fine dining establishments, gastropubs and bistros the world over. “In the end,” Hoeben claims, “we can eat the trends on our own plates and buy them in supermarkets.” While trends are largely inherent to fashion as they are to food, Hoeben is convinced that the two divergent domains can also inspire each other.
After 10 years of pursuing a career as a commercial fashion designer, Hoeben decided to walk a different path. Though her choice to become a culistrator was not immediate, it emerged organically from what she did best. “[Being a] fashion designer is a very intense job,” Hoeben admits. “I inspired my collection from colors and textures of food.” When it came to a point where cuisine overshadowed couture, she took it as a sign that it was time to move on. “I had to travel a lot for my work,” Hoeben says. “I was busy thinking about what we are going to eat, [where and when].”
Despite the fact that culinary illustration is nothing new, Hoeben was first to coin the eponymous term culistrator, embracing the creative profession and adapting it to the needs of today’s modern world. “Food illustration was there before photography,” Hoeben reveals, referring to the cookbooks and restaurant menus of old. “I was quite surprised. There were a lot of food photographers but not culistration.” In reality, more than simply depicting food, culistrators are experts in visual communication.
“If I don’t want to [express myself] in words, I do it in images,” Hoeben explains. “I was thinking, if you are an illustrator, to go further you need to make a nice picture…Not only do you stand out from the rest with your illustrations, you can create an atmosphere.” Bearing this artistic mindset, Hoeben is able to transcend the ordinary conventions of her craft, designing, among other things, an ever-expanding portfolio of restaurant reviews, food packaging, infographics, store signage, logos, tattoos, technical food illustrations and even culinary picture books. Yet, try as she might, Hoeben cannot escape her original vocation.
In order to bring fashion into the kitchen, Hoeben founded her own couture kitchenwear label Commis de Cuisine. Named after the youngest chef in a restaurant kitchen, the brand offers a unique collection of exquisitely designed, handmade, eco-friendly textiles (such as aprons, tea towels and napkins) based on her very own culistrations. “I make illustrations inspired by the fashion world,” Hoeben insists. “Because I’ve worked in fashion for 10 years, I’ve pushed up some [antenna] in terms of trends,” which she then translates into one-of-a-kind, culinary prints. “Food inspires fashion and fashion inspires food.”
To come to this conclusion requires a considerable degree of openness and a vivid imagination. Driven by extraordinary passion, the possibilities are endless for what the creative mind can achieve. With her wealth of talent and experience, it is quite natural to assume that Hoeben could have had first pick from a myriad of opportunities. The fact that she decided to follow her own artistic path proves, once and for all, that we are who we choose to be. ✌
☞ For more information on Janneke Hoeben, Culistrator, Commis de Cuisine, CreativeMornings Utrecht and CreativeMornings™, visit the websites listed below: