Artist’s Spotlight: @bigfunstore

Hello everyone and welcome to my first interview of 2021. I was so fortune to interview artist : @bigfunstore !

  1. Tell me a little about yourself:

” Hey Clarissa, thank you for asking me to do this! I’m Beth.

I spent most of my adult life living in Brooklyn, (with brief detours to Hudson, NY & Philadelphia) and  recently am living back in New Jersey, my home state. Diners, Taylor Ham & Gabagool are just too hard to resist. I’m married to a bread baker, have a cat named Pretzels and had a baby eight months ago. She is not named after a food. There was however a brief fantasy that “Sprinkles” could be her middle name. When I first moved to NYC I pursued painting while working part time jobs, one at a now defunct restaurant by NYU that specialized in food nostalgia via overpriced peanut butter sandwiches, and one of the first specialty coffee shops in Williamsburg. That’s where I hung a felt fake food show when I first began sculpting food before Big Fun had a name. It occurred to me while answering your questions that the part time jobs I have had my entire life have almost all been with food. Big Fun is my fake food passion project that I started about 10 years ago. I studied painting at Boston University and sculpture was ironically my least favorite medium, but when I started to make work again from my apartment, after giving up a proper art studio, I was drawn to paper pulp/clay as mediums I could work with in tight quarters. I also found that the texture of the paper pulp gave itself over to natural food textures in a terrific way. I have always been one to overdose on nostalgia myself, so I started to make sculptures of food that related to food memories in my life. Including a mini antipasti plate, which is something we make every Thanksgiving in my house.

Fake Antipasti

My artful arrangements of the real meat have become family legend.

Real Antipasti

I also began to incorporate the food nostalgia of America into my work. The vintage recipes and food photography of Betty Crocker, Wilton and McCall’s are hauntingly beautiful and strange to me. They make me long for a time I wasn’t alive for. When I’m not working on Big Fun. My sister Amy, and I own Greenwich Letterpress, a stationery store in NYC’s West Village, which we started back in 2005. 

We also celebrate nostalgia and pop culture there too, but not always with food. Although I have started to let my love of food imagery sneak in as of late ;)”

2. What made you choose fake food as an art form?

” I have always been drawn to food, period, and artists that referenced food, like Oldenburg & Thiebaud. As early as college in 98′, I would buy Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies etc…and set up still life’s to paint. To this day there is a snack cake painting from 00′ that hangs in Greenwich Letterpress, as well as a felt turkey and black and white cookie, both from the coffee shop show circa 05′. Food moments in pop culture were always important too. I was obsessed with Cathy Mitchell food gadget infomercials growing up, and I loved watching food on TV being made.

Cathy Mitchell

I saw a program, I think on HBO, as a kid that showed you how prop artists prepared food for commercials and television shows. It always stuck with me and I couldn’t believe that could be a career. Food has just always made an impact. When I worked in an ice cream shop on break from college one Summer, I would just take the scoop for the rainbow sprinkles and fill it up and pour it back into the bowl in a daze. The top TV food moments I think about a lot: The sheet cake that the “Alice” character becomes in Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” video.

Tom Petty’s Don’t Come Around Here No More video

 The meal that Audrey in European Vacation gorges herself on in her dream sequence. The pastries that Bill Murray shoves into his mouth in Groundhog Day. The giant pancakes John Candy makes in Uncle Buck. I really can’t imagine a better subject for art making than food, it always comes back to food.”

3. What was the first art piece you created?

” The felt food art was the first real Big Fun work I made, without a plan or purpose. I was just having fun. The very first thing I made was a felt jar of rainbow sprinkles.

I hand punched the felt with a paper punch and my hand was bruised by the time I finished. The first work I made that is closer to what I make now was a paper pulp steak. It was based on a vintage plaster butcher display I saw at a flea market, and a paper pulp cured ham that I made to hang from my ceiling, to feel as if you walked into an Italian market. I learned a lot from those pieces, the steak was hollow underneath and the sides caved in, which was a valuable lesson. The ham came out better, I sculpted around a solid armature. I still have both in my house today, as well as the felt sprinkles.” 

4. What is the weirdest or most complex thing you ever created in terms of your art?

“I decided that I wanted to start replicating the actual vintage food from those old Americana recipe cards and books. 

The most complicated piece I made was a carousel cake based on McCall’s Jelly Bean Circus Cake from the Great American Recipe Cards. It was a full form cake, with candy and animal cracker details.

I’m really excited about how it turned out, and now that I have a daughter, I hope she likes it enough to display it in her room when’s she’s older. “

Beth and her baby 🙂

5.Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?

” I have slowly begun to upload and sell off my sculptures from throughout the years on my webstore: BigFunFood. (People can always message me on Instagram as well if they see something that isn’t on the site.) It’s an ongoing work in progress, but things will continue to pop up and be available as time goes on. The work is all so personal to me, so parting with it has been hard. 

Berry Sculpture

They are also all one of a kind pieces so I like that they just float out in the world waiting for the right person to scoop them up. I realize that it’s not meant for everyone.  I have also started to bring my love of vintage cookbook imagery into some new textile work as well as some new sculptures that will be coming soon. I am always trying to find new ways to make Big Fun more accessible to more people by making more of one piece, but I hate making the same thing twice so let’s not hold our breath. ;)”

If you like to learn more about Beth. Here is her following contact information:

Instagram: @bigfunstore

@greenwichletterpress

Website:

BigFunFood

Greenwich Letterpress

Thank you Beth for the interview!!!

Until next time.

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