Get to Know the Woman Behind the Most Colorful and Artistic Pasta Creations You've Ever Seen
Colorful food is not something we shy away from here at Sweety High.
Linda takes the concept of playing with your food to a whole other level with her intricate noodle art.
We chatted with the pasta artist to learn about the story behind her pasta, how she creates every design and what the heck she does with her masterpieces once it's all said and done.
Scroll below to feast your eyes on her incredible art, all while getting to know Linda a bit better in the process.
Sweety High: How did you come up with the idea to create such colorful pasta?
Linda Miller Nicholson: I have been making pasta my entire life. I lived in Italy for a while and it really honed my pasta making skills, but I've been making pasta since I was three years old. My grandpa was really into cooking and I always got put on the pasta rollout duty as the resident little kid.
When my son was about four or five years old, he went through a super picky phase where he wouldn't eat any vegetables. I decided I'd make a rainbow using beets and kale and spinach and peas and turmeric and tuck it into the pasta and call it "play dough." Not only was he excited about the colors, he also was just excited he could hang out in the kitchen with me.
It wound up being a really cool thing for us, because it got him over that hurdle and now he eats vegetables in any form, not just hidden in pasta. But then it's sort of neat that it's this creative outlet we can do together. For me, I just tend to go crazy and run with things. I started experimenting with patterns and artistic designs. One thing led to another and it was a snowball effect into this world of art.
SH: What's your process for creating your masterpieces?
LMN: It all starts with inspiration, so I keep an inspiration folder in a note on my phone. I have been known to stare at wallpaper like a crazy person or walk up to somebody and ask if I can take a picture of their shirt.
I have about 70 different concepts in the inspiration folder. I have to balance sponsored ones or ones that I'm doing for companies against ones that I want to do for my own creative pursuits.
Once I've narrowed it down, I figure out how many colors are required to make the design. It can be as simple as polka dots, which would require two colors, or an art mockup. For an art one, I have to really look at it. I blow it up large, because there's nothing worse than getting halfway through and realizing there was a color in there that you didn't see initially.
Then I make the doughs for it, whether it's two or fourteen. The creation of the dough is really interesting, especially if I'm trying to match specific shades. I blend the vegetables with the egg before I pour that mixture into the flour. The color of purée will dictate the color of the dough. It's almost like how a painter will blend colors to get the final hue they desire.
After creating the palette of colors, the execution happens. If it's something that's more elaborate, I'll blow up the picture and have it in front of me and go back and forth from the pasta to the picture to try and mimic it as best I can.
SH: How do you handle mimicking a design?
LMN: I'll get halfway through sometimes and hate what I've done. It won't be the way I wanted it to look, but I'll force myself to finish it. I'll take like 300 pictures of it and still criticize my work. It's actually helpful to take a picture and then look at it in the picture to see what you can fix. It's definitely a process and there's a lot of self-doubt.
I posted my creation of "Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh and I wasn't sure if people would be able to tell what it is. Apparently it was abundantly obvious, because everybody was able to guess it.
SH: Which of your designs are the most popular?
LMN: It's a hard thing for people to get over the food aspect of it and branch into the art aspect of it. A lot of people don't get how I can spend so much time on something and then eat it afterwards. For that sort of school of thought, those people almost like the really simple designs. A handful of different colored noodles is what usually catches their eyes.
Then there are people who are completely embracing that it's firmly in the art zone. Those people are fans of the more elaborate pieces, like "Girl With a Pearl Earring," "The Scream" or "Starry Night."
SH: Do you eat all of your creations once you're done with them?
LMN: The big painting ones, I don't eat because they take a really long time. You're touching it and manipulating it so much and the idea of eating it seems kind of gross to me. Once I'm satisfied with the pictures I've taken of those, I actually feed them to my chickens.
SH: Of all the creations you've made so far, do you have a favorite?
LMN: I feel like I'm always looking forward and not back. I'll look at work I did a year ago and think it's so basic. Right now, I want to explore creating more pasta clothing. I think it would be really neat to do a fashion installation where you'd just have models sitting in the pasta clothes.
SH: Which design was the most difficult for you to make?
LMN: Katy Perry's manager asked me to create her "Bon Appétit" single cover out of pasta. It's extremely detailed and there's a lot going on there, but they really wanted an exact-as-possible replication. It's always hard when you have to be exact as opposed to taking some creative freedom.
SH: How many different pasta creations have you made so far?
LMN: Oh my gosh, I have not kept track of that! I totally should though. Probably at this point we're up to the tens of thousands. Somedays I'll make three or four different things and other days I may only make one.
SH: What can we look forward to from you in the future?
LMN: My book was a really big project, which will be out in early 2018. I'm really excited about the book, because I get so many emails from people who want to know how I make my pasta. Hopefully my book will bring families closer through making my pastas together.
When I post videos of exactly how I do things, people always thank me for sharing it, because a lot of people wouldn't do that. They think of it as proprietary information. I'm always going to do what I'm going to do, so for me to hoard that knowledge would just be selfish and almost arrogant. If you share it with people there's more art in the world and more color in the world. I would rather see people getting passionate about this so there's more happiness and joy in the world as opposed to selfishness.
Make sure to follow Linda on Instagram HERE to see more of her marvelous pasta creations.
Linda isn't the only amazing food artist we've found through Insta. Check out Tiffany Davis' Mickey Mouse-shaped foods HERE.