The Foodscapes of Carl Warner

In a lot of the articles I've read about Carl Warner's work, you see things like "incredible" and "amazing optical illusion" and all that is true. He creates landscapes entirely of food. I've posted about foodscapes before with Matthew Albanese's work and you might think if you've seen one landscape made with food you've seen them all - I certainly would have said that - but Carl Warner proves that to be a conclusion we should not jump to. (My apologies for strangling the rules of grammar on that last sentence)

Warner's landscapes are clearly made with food, that is the point of some of them in fact. He is commissioned by companies like La Brea Bread whose food is their business. He creates print ads for their marketing programs.

You can clearly see the above photo is cartoonish at first glance, but it takes a second to realize it's made with fruit, veggies and bread crumb sand. Then, with all his photos, you start trying to figure out what everything actually is and after you do you're still impressed by the beauty of it all.

There is an excellent article about his work on Gastronommy and where they feature a series of Q&A with Warner. I will excerpt some of that here. All photos are by Carl Warner.

Which was the most difficult image to create?The most difficult is also my favorite, the Fishscape scene [below]. We had to get it all done in one day because of the smell. Certain things I thought would work just didn't. For example, the wake of the fishing boats didn't work with using small fish like sprats like I thought they would. My food stylist saved the day by cutting sides of salmon and overlaying them onto the herring to form the wave patterns. It's this kind of team effort with my food stylist and model maker that often pushes the work to a level that I hadn't expected. It's exciting and rewarding.


What inspired you to start working with food?
It’s the fact that it is an organic material that has such amazing similarities to the larger aspects of the natural world. Also it is something that people relate to easily and have a natural affinity with. I am also a big foodie, I love to eat well and dine out. Food is something we can all afford to be passionate about.

At work

Finished piece

How do you come up with your landscape concepts?
I have sketchbooks full of ideas and drawings of details or wider scenes. Inspiration can come from visiting a place or it in a film, on the web or in a magazine. My inspiration can come from wandering around the supermarket or farmers market, or even in a restaurant. I don't mind where they come from, so long as they come.
Once inspired, I pin it down on paper like Peter Pan's shadow being nailed down. The drawing then becomes the blueprint for the shot which I show to my team, who then help me create the scene.

How large are these landscapes?
They vary based on the scene. I have a triangular table top which is about 12ft across the back, 9 ft deep. The point nearest the camera is cut off so my foreground is only a couple feet across. The table top is perfectly married up to the viewing angle of my wide angled lens.

I LOVE this one.

Nuts and cereal.

Of course  he could not do all this without his model makers and food stylists. He says his work is a team effort and that is part of the reward with each member making their contributions and as a team realizing the completed work.

“Although I’m very hands on with my work, I do use model makers and food stylists to help me create the sets. I tend to start with a drawing which I sketch out in order to get the composition worked out, this acts as a blue print for the team to work to.” 

His team's efforts and his eye for detail have taken food art to another level. You can almost imagine walking in his celery forest, or wading into the salmon water at sunset to get a look at the pea pod boat, jumping back after spotting a hot pepper scorpion in the dessert.

From his bio page:

Born in Liverpool, England in 1963, he moved to Kent at the age of seven where as an only child he spent hours in his room drawing and creating worlds from his imagination having been inspired by artists such as Salvador Dali, Patrick Woodroofe and record sleeve artists such as Roger Dean and the work of Hipgnosis. Carl began his career by going to art college with a view to becoming an illustrator as he had a talent for drawing yet quickly discovered that his ideas and creative eye was better suited to photography as a faster and more exciting medium in which to work. After a year’s foundation course at Maidstone Art College he moved to the London College of Printing in 1982 to do a three year  degree course in photography, film and television. In 1985 he left to assist various photographers in the world of advertising for a year, after which he became one himself.

Carl Warner does more than foodscapes though and you really should check out his website here. Here are a few examples.

He published a book of his work in 2010 which you can check out here. Also if you like what you see, click here to check out prints of his work. I have to tell you, I bought two of the books as gifts.

Here is an interview with Warner where he explains some of the photos featured above. How he made them and what he used.

Why do I do posts about stuff like this? Because of stuff like this. It's a balancing act keeping your sanity in this world and finding the line between caring and being overwhelmed gets blurred. It's hard work not letting the bullshit get you down. To get through it, you have to find a focus. You have to find something beautiful to look at and to wonder at. Bad news and messed up people ruining countless lives happen in our face. It's in the news every day. Beauty and wonder? You have to look for that stuff. I may not be able to change the world, but I can try hard not to make it worse. There are people out there who are talented and amazing and they deserve a shout out. This is my shout out to Carl Warner. Well done, sir.

Additional photos for this post were found here.



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