The Culinary Arts: Jack Martindale on drawing Sheffield’s food scene
A couple of years back, Sheffield-based illustrator and designer Jack Martindale decided to combine his two great passions of drawing and sampling the wares of independent eateries around the city. Today his online portfolio resembles something of a homage to the local food scene, a colourful burst of sumptuous treats and iconic venues.
How did food become such an influential part of your illustration?
When I was at home my mum didn’t really let me use the kitchen; that was pretty much her domain. So, when I went to university and had the freedom of a halls kitchen, well, I just went crazy. I was the guy baking scones when everyone else was doing pre-drinks! One way I decided to discover Sheffield, to help make it feel like my city, was to go and visit all the best foodie places. I later went on a university trip to Japan, and while eating out one day, I realised that what I wanted to do with my personal life was to draw all the memorable stuff I’d eaten, sort of in a reflective way, as a form of reportage. I brought this idea back to Sheffield and it started from there.
Can you remember the first dish you sketched?
I think it was pancakes at The Cabin – I’ve sketched them a few times. It’s a nice way to work because if I’m ever having a block in my creative work, I can go out for some food, make myself feel better, and then try to draw that food. It’s a bit of a ‘two birds, one stone’ scenario.
What are the best places and dishes to sketch?
I always have fun when I go to Piña because they have such a wide, colourful range of food. It’s very typically Mexican in that way. The venue itself is also an interesting space, and I draw the whole scene, not just the food, so that’s a bonus for me. Barrow Boy is pretty cool as well; I like how it’s quite small, like those hidden bars you can discover, and it’ll feel full just with a few people inside. I really missed those sorts of environments during lockdown, the hustle and bustle you get in those bars.
Considering all the restaurants were closed for eating in, was lockdown tough for you creatively?
Yes and no. I feel like we all had blocks, but a lot of the time I drew my own bakes instead of the eating out drawings. One of the most recent posts I did was of one of Eve’s Kitchen’s doughnuts, where I took one out into the wild and took a photo of the food with an outdoor backdrop – it changed things up a bit. I do sometimes deviate from the photos; I draw things that aren’t always there. That’s why they are so overly detailed sometimes.
Do you have any projects that you’d like to work on in the future?
I’d love to do a food menu. All these independents that I go to regularly are close to my heart: Eve’s Kitchen, Pom Kitchen, Motore Café – all are pretty much on my doorstep. I really missed the conversation you’d have with the team behind these businesses. But in terms of other creative projects, I’d like to make a more tangible thing eventually, maybe like a book that could showcase all of these independents. At the moment though, it’s just a pleasure to be able to get back out there and see places open and thriving again.