I finally got my act together and sat down for a quick Q&A with her. Just some background info, when you watch Food Network, we use several different brand names, but don't really want to advertise them and we also want to make sure you feel that a recipe is possible without the exact same brand. Butter is butter, and milk is milk. That's where Rani comes in, she re-creates or greeks labels for pretty much everything on my show. Here's our quick chat and then some show and tell...
Me: What shows have you worked on for Food Network?
Rani: The shows I have worked on are 30 Minute Meals, Tyler's Ultimate, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Guy's Big Bite, Viva Daisy, $10 Dinners with season 5 winner of the Next Food Network Star, Melissa d’Arabian, and of course Cooking for Real with the lovely Miss Sunny Anderson.
Teeheehee, thanks girl. How long have you been doing this and how did you start?
I've been at Food Network for 2 years and love it! Everyone is amazing, fun, talented, creative and interesting. This job is my dream job... honestly! I remember watching (show name shall not be revealed) my freshman year of college and seeing a jar of sweet relish that HORRIFIED ME! Keep in mind it was the shows' first season, Food Network was just starting to get bigger, they were gaining more viewers, and television wasn't in HD. I remember sitting on the sofa with my dad and saying "I wonder who has that job designing all the labels? I want that job! It would be awesome!". Four years later I was hired by executive producer Mark Dissin to work on my first show at the network which was Amy Finely's (season 3 winner of The Next Food Network Star) show The Gourmet Next Door and two years after that I'm still there and incredibly happy.
Where did you study for this career field?
The funny thing is I went to the School of Visual Arts for motion graphics and film editing, I ended up falling in love with poster design and re-branding, and now I'm designing packaging for one of my favorite channels. I love the way the universe works!
How do you come up with your label designs?
When designing a label I always look at the original packaging, research what the product is, where it came from, how it's made, who came up with it first, etc. Then, I pretty much design on the fly, I don't have time to do sketches, rough drafts, or prints outs to see if everything is the way I want it, which is hard because 4 years of college and I had weeks to design packaging, now I have a day or 5 minutes. Whatever I end up finding out about the product helps me in the design of the new label. For instance, with your cornstarch I needed a name for the product so I googled cornstarch. Usually wikipedia pops up first, I copy, paste, and proof read before I place the information on the label because this information is like a little script for the talent. If the talent on set isn't familiar with cornstarch's history then it will be there on the side of the tub.
Wow, I didn't even know that, I just thought it was writing to fill space. Neat!
Yeah, real stuff. So with the cornstarch, the original label has a Native American woman on the side, I remember they called it maize which became the brand name in Spanish... I think lol... I forgot what language.
It's Spanish silly, ok give me another faux-brand name and how you came up with it.
The French's French Fried Onions reminded me of home cooking or eating at a diner. Patty is the name of a waitress in my dad's favorite diner in Queens. I wanted the label had to have the warm and fun down home cooking feeling. So, it became Patty's French Fried Onions.
Ok, can you email me some flicks to post and tell us about them?
Rani's Show and Tell
I use an Epson photo stylus printer, glossy and matte label paper to print out the labels. In this photo you can see that I have printed the flattened, two dimensional image of a frozen spinach box for Sunny's delicious (I had some, just one of the many perks of my job) creamed spinach.
This is the completed box. I use cue cards (oaktag) to construct the box and a hot glue gun to seal it.
These are Sunny's new SPICE JARS! it was an exciting day for me people! I love these jars! I'm a sucker for glass jars and bottles *ahhh ... sigh*.
What ever I have labeled or greeked in the past for other shows gets saved and placed in the pantry. We do our best to make sure only Sunny's products go into her pantry but sometimes you'll see Ann Burelle's balsamic vinegar or Tyler Florence's pumpkin puree.
One last question (via email) ...
What the hardest label to replicate?
Replicating a label isn't all that hard, my only challenge at work is not having enough time. As I mentioned before; in the real package-design world it's a designer or a team of designers that complete a project. It takes a few weeks to months and once in a while, even a year. If I had more time I would be able to be even more amazing! MUAHAHAHAHA! I have no problem with sounding arrogant, you can quote me lol :)
Thanks Rani, for taking time to share your answers between taping acts. And thanks for emailing flicks at then end of the long production day! I owe ya some Brooklyn Cuchifrito!