David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

Food art pairings

I’ve talked before about personal side projects and how they can lead to paid work, doing the kind of things you most enjoy. Here’s a top example from last year.

Pantone lemon lime

Food Art Pairings is a project by Minneapolis-based designer and illustrator David Schwen.

David had the idea of making individual Pantone chips out of household objects — sponges, cardboard, and so on. But while finishing off a poster design, he’d taped two Pantone chips together to see how they looked next to one another.

“Instantly I thought of how people pair food together, and that was that. Pantone pairings.

“Once I had the idea figured out, I spent time thinking up different pairings. It became pretty easy and was a lot of fun. I was creating a new pairing almost every day for about a month straight, setting them up on a white background in my studio.

David Schwen office
Inside David’s studio

Pantone ketchup mustard

Pantone bread butter

“Obviously some were easier than others to photograph. Probably the hardest one to capture has also been the best seller: Milk & Cookies.”

Pantone milk cookie

I asked David if he’d share how much he earned on the back of the project.

“It’s not easy to put a finger on the amount, but it’s brought me a lot of attention. A lot of other projects have come about from people seeing it, and Instagram ran a feature on me and the project, which brought a lot of followers to my profile.

“That’s why I create these personal projects. Not only do I really enjoy them, but by constantly making content, you stay top-of-mind with the creative audience. It’s very important to stay relevant, with how fast things are created and forgotten about in this industry.”

Pantone bacon eggs

Pantone peanut butter jelly

Pantone burger fries

Pantone chips salsa

Pantone pancakes syrup

View more of David Schwen’s work on his website: www.dschwen.com.

Related, from the archives: The financial value of side projects.

My second book on Amazon

Related posts

4 comments about “Food art pairings”

  1. This is a really neat side project.

    I saw another designer do this with plant life, which was neat as well.

  2. I might know the one you mean. tinypmsmatch.

    Pantone chip plant

  3. This is one of those classic ‘why didn’t I think of that” creative solutions that just seems to make so much sense.

    At university in order to stay in beer and cigarettes I worked at Homebase and one of the more pleasant tasks there was to mix up pots of paint in a glorified tumble dryer. People who were particularly inspired by colours found in their everyday surroundings would cleave off a sample from here or there which I would then scan and the system would interpret with wild digital ineptitude. Because of my experiences of mixing up a billion pots of BRIGHT RED or BRIGHT PURPLE paint, I always thought the association of real things and colour references was a more engaging and interesting way for people to make a personal connection to a colour scheme (rather than a standard PMS reference).

    I think the concept of pairing up in the way shown here takes that to the next level and if implemented across the board would go some distance to helping people make informed decisions about what colours work together. That said, decent choices would possibly be rather thin on the ground after a while and I guess there’d be the icky ones to do as well:
    – Brown Sauce and Fishfingers (a favourite of my business partner)
    – Stella Artois and Vomit
    etc.

  4. Aside from the cleverness & the “why didn’t I think of that” factor, I really appreciate the broadness of such a project. You could go so many places (cultural food wise), or take a religious stand point with holiday foods… and so much more.

    This is awesome. I need these in random areas of my house.

    Kudos!

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.