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Combining Food and France in a Colouring Book

Illustrator, food stylist and cookbook author Jessie Kanelos Weiner is about to launch an exciting new project set quite apart from anything she’s worked on before – an adult colouring book.

American-born Jessie is a self-professed Francophile-come-foodie whose skills have leant themselves perfectly to this new colouring venture. Each and every illustration within Edible Paradise: a Colouring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables jumps off the page. There’s gorgeous images of produce, iconic Parisian food and features of the city, nature, and other quirky odds and ends. She talks to Khoollect about how it all happened.

A day in the life

How did you get into illustration and design and what inspired you to mostly focus on food?

I studied fine art in college, but the idea of being a professional chef or illustrator wasn’t tangible in my mind. When I moved to Paris I started a food blog (thefrancofly.com) about my new transition to the capital of gastronomy. Not wanting to post my horrible iphone photos, I picked up drawing again to illustrate my stories. My illustrations got a lot of praise, so I slowly launched my career, picking up the phone and calling art directors and magazines. To any aspiring illustrator: look around – find that thing in your environment that makes your heart sing and draw it all the time.

Where did your idea come from to create a food-focused colouring book?

Colouring books exploded in France a few years ago. I loved the idea, but they all had such a digital, symmetrical, ‘copy and paste’ feeling to them. Since I have such a one-track mind, a food colouring book came to mind. The act of colouring is very meditative and goal-based – much like cooking. So, I brought the idea to my editor Martynka at Rizzoli and we developed the idea into the gorgeous, hand-drawn book it is today.

Jessie Weiner

What do you love most about your job?

I found the perfect mix of craft and passion.

What’s your biggest achievement?

I have lived in France for more than seven years. It’s a country that attracts a lot of dreamers, but very few stay for the long haul because of visa woes, bureaucracy and cultural differences. Although I feel like I’ve lived nine lives in Paris already, I finally found my niche and it is now home.

What makes a great illustration?

The right mix of spontaneity, technique and a touch of cultural relevancy.

Top five favourite illustrators?

Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

Walking around Paris, pop culture, travel, outdoor markets, photography.

Jessie Kanelos Weiner

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few…

Since I’m also a food stylist, I have an overflowing collection of plates and tableware. I recently started investing in handmade pieces and Japanese pottery.

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

Family photos and my grandmother’s turquoise costume jewellery.

Your go-to recipe for a busy weeknight?

I go to my neighbourhood market every week to stock up on seasonal fruit and veg. I usually make a really amazing soup that gets rationed throughout the week (this week was curried butternut squash and sweet potato). The rest gets supplemented with roasted vegetables, grains, a little bit of meat, and bread and cheese to keep my husband happy.

Your favourite song or album?

Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton for their Another Round podcast.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

I was born and raised in Chicago, but Paris has been home for seven years.

What do you love most about it?

Paris never ages.

Your favourite place for coffee?

CREAM for an amazing latte and vinyl on the stereo.

Best spot for dinner?

Miznon for some mind-blowing pita sandwiches and plenty of inspired veggie sides. Although this probably isn’t allowed in Paris, it’s finger licking good.

The best place for illustrating, designing, reading or writing?

My office in Montreuil.

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Wake up late, make a killer brunch at home, walk around the Marais, eat Japanese for dinner and watch a movie.

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?

Maybe Hamburg, Germany.

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Find out more

Visit Jessie’s website and her side project The Franco Fly.

Find Jessie on Instagram – Facebook – Pinterest.