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Tasty Inspiration found in Atlanta

Written by in #ClassicNeenah

When Design Army was in search of artists for the Future Classic promotion, Russell Shaw’s hand-drawn illustrative style and sense of humor jumped out. Having seen a map of Portland he’d previously done, the team was delighted to see his gastronomically inspired map of “Atlanta on 30,000 Calories.”

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What inspired you to use a food guide to represent Atlanta?
Food is a rallying point for a region — certain flavors and ways of cooking develop and become specific to certain areas. Over time, they become markers of people from a similar area. I think this is very true of the South; we’ve developed a rich culture around Southern foods — from shrimp and grits, collards and down-home barbecue to New American-style high-end burgers and bourbon-based craft cocktails. Plus, I believe there’s just something special that happens when you sit down around a table to a meal with others. Atlanta has developed its own unique twist on Southern cooking, and I’m always glad when I get to sit around a table with friends in this city.


Describe the process of creating this piece. How did you approach the concept phase?
My first step was trying to identify what things were unique to Atlanta that would be worth highlighting and telling others about. The food aspect was an obvious frontrunner, as well as the notion that Atlanta is a city defined more by its neighborhoods than by the whole, so the seven days of eating across seven neighborhoods seemed like a good candidate. The style was developed by running with a bit of my own personal illustration style, but mixing in some good quirky and imperfect character to really play up a Southern-gothic folk-art quality.

Did you learn anything new along the way, about working with paper or about your chosen technique?
I really enjoyed being free and loose with the illustration style. The colors and line art were so messy, and I liked the energy created by being open with the illustration style like that. Normally, my illustrations are similar but a lot tighter and more technical; this was a great departure to try out.

the optimist

What was the last great meal you had in Atlanta, and where did you have it?
It was actually a place on the Westside map. It’s called The Optimist and it’s a stellar seafood joint. We split things up tapas-style for the table, but there were clam rolls with pickled peppers, mussels in a curry coconut sauce, a pecan-crusted flounder, and broccoli drizzled with parmesan and bread crumbs and tossed in a lemon sauce. It was amazing.

piedmont park

Piedmont Park

Give us your perfect “24 hours in Atlanta” itinerary.
I would start out at Octane for a brunch biscuit and good coffee conversation. Then I would probably head over to Piedmont Park for a morning walk — the view of midtown on the south side of the park is one of my favorites. For the afternoon, I would probably go to the High Museum, as well as some of our other smaller galleries, like Mammal or Goat Farm galleries, or do a driving tour of Living Walls murals. In the evening, I would go to Antico on the Westside for good pizza and wind down either at Churchill Grounds for great jazz or at Northside Tavern for quality blues.


Aside from the food scene, what are your favorite elements of your city?
In the summer, each park in the city hosts a festival just about every weekend. So there are endless opportunities to see hundreds of art vendors and listen to music every weekend for the whole summer. On that note – Atlanta music: We attract so much good stuff, and I probably spend all of my free time (and money) going from venue to venue hearing so many good bands and artists.

goat farm

The Goat Farm Gallery

Describe the creative scene there. What do you love about it? What would you change, if you could?
I’ve heard a number of people say that Atlanta is a city that’s up for the making. I think the artists here can shape what they want the arts culture to look like. And it’s a young arts culture still, so a lot of it feels like the Wild West — there’s less of an establishment, so there’s so much potential in what it all can become. If there was one thing I’d change, it’s that it tends to be a springboard city for people; they come here, they make it, get bigger and better, and immediately leave. Hey, I understand — sometimes, amazing opportunities come up. But I do hope that as more and more people hone their skills when they’re young, some will start to stay in the city and turn their young energy into more mature wisdom.


Twitter: @RussRS

Instagram: @RussRS