Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Label Intensive Work

That's graphic artist Rani Cheema deep in her on-set office within Studio A at Food Network. She's one of the first people I met when I began working on Cooking for Real and we bonded instantly over a loving conversation about Brooklyn. Since then we've traded emails about great places to eat in our 'hood and have smiled and laughed our way to a great working relationship. Did I mention she is an amazing graphic artist that can make a label for a product at the drop of a dime? With pressure on her and a crew of 20-plus waiting on a new label, she's able to churn out labels and packages with style, composition and flair. A total pro.

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?
Sure!

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!

25 comments:

Cooking Mama said...

This is such an interesting blog, Sunny! Who would know someone would actually have a job doing this. AMAZING! She is one lucky gal!

I tell you I would do just about anything to work at Food Network. I'd paste those labels on the food, I'd spit and polish Bobby's grill, I'd pick up Brooke Johnson's dry cleaning, heck! I'd even clean the toilets! ha ha ha Really--I would.

Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your experiences. :)

Sunny Anderson said...

cooking mama, thanks! there are so many working parts to a cooking show, it isn't just all about me and the food and all the efforts really work in concert. i hope to over time highlight all the working parts! and be careful what you say you want ... it can happen! look at me, look at rani ... all you have to do is ask and be determined.

Sue said...

Sunny,
That was sooo interesting. You should start a series of interviews with behind the scenes folks. Rani sounds awesome and her labels are beautiful. Great headline too, by the way.

Sunny Anderson said...

sue, thanks for the compliment, i'll make sure to pass it on to rani as well! i did have another interview with a behind the scenes person, i'll re-tag the bottom of this post with "the crew" and as well as the previous so you can read up on food photography ... and thanks re: the headline, i love words and playing with them. so it's neat when a cute title pops in my head for a post. sometimes i dream ideas (titles, recipes, blogs, many things) and wake up as if an alarm went off. i have a little notebook by the bed and i jot them down. been like that for a long time. i'm having fun writing the blog, so thanks so much for reading!

Courtney said...

Great blog entry. What a fascinating job. I have noticed the labels before. A cool way to incorporate her life as well as history/information into the details of a show.

Cheema said...

Thank you Sue. I love having that job that people would have ever thought existed lol. It's awesome! Cooking Mama, Sunny is totally right! Anything is possible, as long as you stay positive, know what you want, and see yourself somewhere it will totally happen. MANIFESTATION! ::echo::

Mary said...

I love how you share stuff like this because you know what? I have ALWAYS wondered about this whole label thing!! I always notice the quirky names and I think it's cool to know the woman behind them.

g.beans said...

Such an interesting post! I'm so glad to have discovered your blog. To echo another comment, I'd love to hear more about the behind-the-scenes folks you work with. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with your audience!

Sunny Anderson said...

courtney, thanks!!! ita, rani is the best!

cheema, hey girl! thanks again for taking the time to share!

mary, yaaaaaaay! that's why i'm here. just want to fill in the behind-the-scenes blanks for anyone that likes details!

g.beans, thanks so much for the compliment! so glad you are tuning in and it's even better now that you are here. look around some, there are some posts from when i first started that are fun for me even to read now. i've tagged the behind the scene profiles so you can check them under "the crew"

jacob said...

Love this! Thanks for interviewing her.

Gaby said...

wow this is so cool! I never even picked up on all of that! Thanks so much for sharing Sunny!

Sunny Anderson said...

jacob, thanks! ;-) i aim to please! glad you liked it. set stylist is next and quite possibly my stedicam man.

gaby, as you can see, i'm there and i didn't even know some of the stuff. today i'm reading labels like crazy! lol ... she does actually put little notes on there. who knew?

HappyTummy said...

how FUN! i never even realized what an integral part designing labels is for a cooking show. i LOVE the spice jars. rani is super talented!

sunny, i love your show. you've got a fantastic personality :)

Gaby said...

that is so cute! What a fun and creative job! I love your show Sunny - you are always so amazing and brighten my day! Keep it coming!

Sala @ Veggie Belly said...

Its wonderful to read about Rani and how she does her designs. Thanks for a behind the scenes peek!

Sunny Anderson said...

happy tummy, cute name. i'm learning new things everytime i tape, so i'm glad i can share the journey with you! thanks so much for the compliment and the support!

gaby, thanks for checking the blog and watching! i'm smiling and sharing recipes and the stories behind them, who knew people would watch? so i'm very thankful you do and really appreciate the support. you make my goals and dreams possible. hope you like the shows on the way, i just taped my thanksgiving episode, yummmmmmmmy turkey with a new holiday side dish!

sala @ veggie belly, i'll pass on the thanks to rani as well. she's a cool chick. fyi, i have some vegan meals on the way, but i don't stress or emphasize them seriously enough to catch them in the show descriptions, but they are on the way ... hope you enjoy!!

Selenasking said...

Hi Sunny! I'm getting ready to go to A.C. on Tue. and guess who I saw on "Millionaire" tonight? Yes, our girl RR! I'd like to meet her (and you). I don't care to go into the city to her show though. How about we get together for Pizza and Beer sometime in the Big Apple?

Cooking Mama said...

The hubster and I were watching Sandra Lee today and he said, "what brand of bread is that???" (He is in management at a bread company, so he's always looking at bread--being the competitive guy he is and all.) And I said, "remember, I told you about that gal at FN that makes the labels for the food? Remember, Sunny blogged about it?" And he was like, "oh yeah, what a cool job."

ken said...

hi sunny ....... its mee ur blogger boyfriend ....... what ya cook'n .......

yes yes yes ....... rani is right on point ........ with everything ....... o my god ....... i love graphic design ....... i use art explosion 800,000 and print artist ....... more so 4 silkscreen graghic designs for apparels ....... cd covers ....... business cards ....... and a few others ....... the possibilities are endless ....... i love the creative aspect of it ....... i guess i should go back to school to get mee ......... graphic design credentials ....... so i can get a job on the foodnetwork ....... hit show ....... cooking for real set ....... ken aka see u at work sunny .......

Sunny Anderson said...

selenasking, have fun in a.c.!!! i'm off of beer right now until they come up with a good light one ... lol

cooking mama, yaaaaay! now, just an fyi, different shows are produced by different companies, so her show may have different labeling. sometimes productions just put a piece of tape over things, turn products so the label doesn't face the camera or they have their own graphic artist. real cool your hubby chat about the blog :-), rani will be happy to hear! I told her the blog about her job is such a major success and she smiled! makes me feel good. people have no idea allllll the working parts, heck i am still learning them!

ken, you are crazy! sounds like you and rani have some things in common. you should keep your eyes opened for gigs and always apply, don't think you can't make it. you can. as you can see, she was actually just watching the network years ago wanting to work on the labels ... you never know!

Sandy Jenete said...

Thanks for very cool post, I love the behind the scenes stuff!! Love it, love your show too!

Complaint Department Manager said...

I know I haven't been here in a while, but for some reason, I had to snake back here and see what I've missed. My first observation: It looks like we have the same printer and I just got mine today after I ordered it a few days ago. Ya gots good taste.

Sunny Anderson said...

sandy jenete, thanks for checking the blog and hopefully the show! i really appreciate it and rani is really pleased people are responding to the post. so many people go into making the show what it is, it's so neat i can tell these parts of the story. thanks for the support!

COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT MANAGER!! YAAAAAAY ... how the heck you been??!! Your comment is a sight for sore eyes! Thanks for snakin back ... I'm headed to chicago soon, any suggestions on food spots? I'm doing research, but I remember you went through there recently. i'll tell rani the artist she's working on some of the good equipment! i still have an old school printer lol ... hp c something ...

Complaint Department Manager said...

WOW, you have a great memory, wish Dtub did. I'm touched you remember. Just so you know, the best places we went to were Geno's East of Chicago and a great little diner called Ed Debevics. I took some pics of the deep dish madness over at Geno's, be more than happy to share. I customized a 4 cheese pizza and had them add pepperoni...oh my. I also have video of Ed Debevics...yes, video. It was THAT great and I'm not just talkin' about the food.

Sunny Anderson said...

complaint dept. mgr., well, i actually don't have great memory, but there are shining moments. ok, i'm taking notes now because i don't want to forget where you commented. :-) may need to see this video you speak of ...