Regular readers will know that I have blogged about Sara Midda before as I’m a huge fan of her work. Lucky for me, we have been in touch for a while now. Actually I had earmarked Sara for a Mapology Guides map but she was in midst finishing off this book. Maybe some other time.
I thought it might be nice to ask Sara a few questions for people to get to know her a little.
A bowl of Olives is very much in the same format and vein as the legendary Southern France – a sketchbook. It’s a mix of memoirs, journal and sketchbook with Sara’s very gorgeous, distinctive and legible hand lettering. Each page is full of illustrations, sometimes using photographs but all with delectable watercolour drawings.
With a subject close to my heart I didn’t know whether to first read Sara’s thoughts and musings on random food topics or delight over the illustrations. Like with the sketchbook from Southern France, this will have pride of place in my library amongst my Sara Midda collection and I will refer to it often.
OK, over to Sara.
How did you first get to be an illustrator? Well apart from 5 minutes when I was about 8 wanting to be a hairdresser (my Brother quickly put me off that idea) and a longer period thinking I could be a vet, I had always wanted to do something (did not know what) in this field and consider myself lucky to be able to do so.
Did you always illustrate in watercolours and why? I think I did except for pen or brush and ink, the other medium I sometimes work with.
You have a very distinctive style and beautiful handwriting. Did that come natural to you? Thank you. I was always interested in using hand lettering, and lettering as part of the image. And how different images need a different type of lettering .
In and Out of the Garden and South of France: A sketchbook are Bestsellers. They are as current today as they were when first published. What do you think is the secret to your success? No idea! Growing up and Other Vices is perhaps from my books a favourite , and it was not a success. Whatever success means?
You’ve recently illustrated A Bowl of Olives – on food and memory. Why did you choose this topic? It was a subject I was interested in. My sketchbooks were full of observations of food related subjects. I have many food books, ceramics, olive oil tins and artefacts related to cooking, that all inspired me.
What do you think of today’s illustration styles. Who inspires you? Any favourites? I am not really well informed about contemporary illustrators .The work of Steinberg, André Francois, Edward Gorey, Ardizzone, Samuel Palmer, Blake, Van Gogh, Paul Klee, Maira Kalman, old packaging, wood block prints, typography, plants, fabrics, flower pots, landscape, baskets, vegetable gardens and on …………
If you could choose another medium to illustrate with, what would you choose? Pen or brush and ink, or etching, or potato prints.
Are you planning to illustrate more books? I hope so! if no publisher wants any of my ideas, I have much to carry on with, and right now I am trying to sort things out a bit.
If not books, what else would you like to work on? I worked with a Japanese store for 20 years, on a range of own label products, from baby clothes to china, soap et cetera. It was thoroughly spoiling. I worked on designs in London and travelled there each year. Often they would come here too. Different disciplines to work within. After working alone it was so different and lively to be with a group of people.
Thank you Sara for sharing this with us.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It makes for a perfect gift and if you love food, illustrations and charming musings and thoughts about food, you need to get a copy for yourself. Enough said!!