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Cocktail Book Illustrations | The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds

The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds cocktail collection book features illustrations from local artist, Erin Elise O’Brien. We interviewed Erin about her process and how the 25 illustrations for the book were created.

How long have you been a painter?
As a kid, I always wanted to be an artist and I pursued it as soon as I started going to school. I got my BA in Fine Art in 2015 at USC and have been pursuing a painting career ever since.

What materials did you use to create the illustrations?
I used pencil for the initial drawings and then micron pen with watercolors on watercolor paper.

Why did you choose to work with watercolor?
Watercolor is a medium I don’t have as much experience in, so I’ve been experimenting with it. For this project, they worked well to achieve a hint of realism while still leaving an illustrative mark. Watercolor lends itself well to the hand-made look we wanted since the cocktail book was inspired by vintage Burpee Seeds catalogs.

What did you enjoy most about working on this project?
I enjoyed being a part of the collaboration between so many talented people to create this unique cocktail experience. I love that Amy and Redbird value art so much, and both the food and Tobin’s cocktails are works of art in themselves. For me, to have the chance to put my own mark on that whole experience was exciting.

Which illustration was your favorite to work on?
It’s hard to choose! I got attached to all of them, but there are a few stand-outs because I was in such a deep groove working on them. The Kumquats and the Contessa both took a lot of time but were really gratifying to paint particularly those leaf and petal textures.

Which was the most challenging?
One of the most challenging was the Butterfly Pea. It has so many intricate details in the petals that I wanted to get right.

Who are some painters that you look to for inspiration?
I am a big fan of Edward Hopper and Michaël Borremans. As oil painters, both aesthetically and in subject-matter, their work really hits the nail on the head for me. I also love Magritte and anything surrealist and Matisse for color inspiration.

What was it like painting in the Garden at Redbird | Vibiana?
Painting in the garden was lovely! I was blown away by what a beautiful space Redbird inhabits, inside and out. It brought to life the whole concept behind the collection that the ingredients are grown right in their backyard.

Which cocktail is your favorite from the collection?
I’m a huge sucker for mezcal and my favorite is the Devil’s Helmet.

Follow along with Erin’s work on Instagram @erineliseart.

Learn more about The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds cocktail collection here and find recipes to create the cocktails at home.

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