How Marianna Fierro became an in-demand culinary illustrator



of how did you get the jobanswers Eater’s questions about how people across the food and restaurant industry got their jobs. Today’s Article: Marianna Fierro.

It makes sense that Marianna Fierro loves food. Growing up in Udine, Italy, about an hour northeast of Venice, she spent countless hours at her father’s pizzeria. Her favorite childhood memories include watching her parents cook and gathering around the table with her family to eat. But she didn’t turn her passion for food into a career until recently, when she became full-time in November 2022 with a freelance food and drink illustration job.

But the long road to get here is partly responsible for Fierro’s success. She studied Design and Typography, especially International Her Typography Her Style (also known as Swiss Style) at Kent State University, which provided the foundation for securing roles in Graphic Design, UI/UX Design, Product Design and Art Direction. Did. “I learned that all the time you spend on Tumblr storing graphics and researching fonts is called graphic design and you can make a living out of it,” she says of her experience in college. I’m here. “There was a lot of cutting out paper and studying the basic elements of design: contrast, balance, scale.” When she decided to follow her heart and give food illustrations a try, she found success. I realized that I have all the experience necessary to do this.

the only obstacle? Fierro couldn’t actually get paid for her food illustration because she didn’t have a green card. “I spent two years building a portfolio that looked like my client’s work, and by the time I finally got my green card in 2020, I was calling and emailing people.” I said, ‘Hey, this is what I do. I can do this for you.

Full-time work developing websites for Google, Spotify, and Nike, as well as Taco Bell, Tender Greens, and los angeles times As Fierro decided to fly completely alone. Here, she shares how she quickly established herself as the go-to hood her illustrator, and now what she’ll do next.

Eater: What is your job? What is your favorite part about it?

Marianna Fierro: It all starts with research because you want to represent your brand in a way that appeals to your customers. The target audience and visual inspiration set the mood for Arthis direction, which leads to his illustrations and designs. And if the client also needs help with marketing in photography or social media, we can do that too.

Most recently, he was in charge of art direction for Hedley & Bennett’s holiday campaign, and creative for Instagram and newsletters. He also assisted with the marketing side of Fishwife, evolving their brand guidelines and visual design. For BjornQorn he designed a Food52 holiday popcorn tin and it was a lot of fun. I am very happy with this collaboration. We’ve been fans of each other for years and it finally happened.

We also have our own online store that sells merch. I like useful gifts, so I started with a fruit kitchen tea towel instead of a print. A tea towel can be used to store as a work of art or to wipe down the counter. I love the duality of it. My big break was last year’s Mortadella tea towel set. This led to Mortadella beach towels, t-shirts, stickers and wrapping paper. Now I also offer prints.

In my previous full-time job, I worked on websites for Google, Spotify, Nike, and Converse over the past few years. Our goal for 2023 is to enable the creation of websites for restaurants, food brands and beverage brands. I want to bring these two worlds closer together. That’s what I’m aiming for.

What did you want to do when you started your career?

I wanted to be a brand designer with a focus on visual identity. Creating logos, choosing his palette of colors, creating typography and iconography, and illustrations – all the elements that make up his visual identity. Then things took a different turn.

How did you get into the food industry?

I got tired of working in branding and switched to UI/UX, which was the turning point for me as a product designer. I was working on mobile and non-mobile digital screens, and that too wasn’t as creative as I thought it would be. Basically, by 2017, I was burned out and became even more obsessed with cooking and posting as a way to hang out with friends, meet new people, and build a little bit of community.

And I always admired the people in the illustration department of the program, even in college. man, that’s cool. I want to do it, but I don’t know how to draw it. There is a project called 100 days project, and I decided to draw a different food every day for 100 days in a row. The caveat was that it shouldn’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes.

It was office work, so it made sense to digitize it instead of drawing and painting. That’s how I got to work digitally, and also to be more comfortable describing things that aren’t entirely real. After 100 days, I was like, ‘Dan, I really enjoyed this.

When was the first time you felt successful?

In the first year after getting my green card in 2020, every project I won felt like a really big win. My first official paid freelance gigs were at Culture Pop Soda, Tender Greens, and VinePair. I think my early highlights were working on the Taco Bell campaign and Vampire Weekend.

How has the pandemic affected your career?

When people couldn’t get together and take pictures of their food and drink, many brands and editorial platforms turned to illustration. , I started making products to support businesses that customers love.

Did you have any setbacks? what was that?

Food illustration is definitely a niche and can be both great and challenging at the same time. Working in a restaurant that is a small business and making this a full-time career is a combination of family business projects and not necessarily directly into food and beverages. It means balancing it with unrelated commercial work. That’s a lot of extra work.

I am also learning everything about becoming an illustrator from a business perspective. A big example is educating clients about licensing and how it works. This ensures that the value and longevity of the work is understood.

What was your turning point?

The decision to become a full-time freelancer took a long time. I was very lucky that the Los Angeles design studio where I was his director of art allowed me to move part-time in April 2022. From the 5th he became the 3rd. In November 2022, I took off my training wheels and quit that job. I knew I would be working on some very exciting projects in the near future. I can’t go into too much detail about them, but I plan to do illustrations for an entire cookbook and branding for a food YouTube series.

What about your work surprises people? Why?

It takes me a very long time to describe my style, especially my editing work, because I don’t have to worry about printing costs or color limitations. I have. The latest Thanksgiving package I did for Simply Recipes included lots of potluck tablescapes with hands and lots of sauces, each with at least 100 or more small pieces. Yes, it took him over an hour to create. Sometimes it even surprises me how long some illustrations take.

What advice would you give to someone who wants your job?

Work honestly on what you’re passionate about. the right person will find you.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

morgan goldberg Freelance writer based in Los Angeles.


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