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The Watercolored World of Natalie McGarvey | Gallery
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The Watercolored World of Natalie McGarvey | Gallery

A chat with Natalie McGarvey, Philadelphia-based designer, about her food-inspired illustrations. Don't forget to enjoy her work in the gallery!

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Natalie McGarvey is an illustrator and designer based in the Philadelphia area. We had the opportunity to catch up with her about her food-inspired projects: with her unique drawings and paintings, the artist shares a personal point of view on food, animals and the vegetable kingdom.

Hers are symmetrical and well balanced images where the subject, color and technical dialogue become authentic protagonists: enjoy a selection of her work in the gallery at the top of the page.

How would you describe your artistic style and where does your inspiration come from?
I do a lot of drawing and painting, but I also take a lot of inspiration from textile design. I tend to compose my work like wallpaper – packed with repeating elements for a playful, unified aesthetic. Food as a subject is a symptom of how it's basically always on my mind.

What techniques do you use and why?
Mostly drawing with pencil or ink and painted with watercolors and gouache. I like the quality of light from watercolor and the immediacy of the medium. I enjoy working quickly, it makes me less precious with my work, and it keeps my hand apparent. Sometimes I punch up colours digitally for a more exciting on-screen experience.

Which food is your favorite to draw?
Noodles, and meats. Noodles for their line quality, and meat for the color and the marbling.

How important are colour and/or texture, and symmetry of food in your illustrations?

Colour and texture are very important! Eating and engaging with food is such a sensory experience, and getting across as much as possible in an illustration is key.

Which illustration is your personal favourite and why?
My pho piece – it's got the noodles and the meats, and some of my favorite colour combinations. It also happens to be a favorite meal of mine, and is non-negotiable for when I'm under the weather.

You’re having friends for dinner, what do you cook?
For dinner or lunch, tacos! I'll braise some beef for filling and to fulfill the part of me that likes to make something a little more involved, and then just prep jalepeños, onions, salsa, avocados and other fixings and let people make their own plates. It makes guests do a little work for their food and engage with the meal, and it's the right level of casual for the kind of thing I've got going on. If it's brunch, I make strata. It's simple and endlessly adaptable.

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