It should come as no surprise that Gretchen Röehrs' art makes me squeal with delight. And hunger.
After all, her whimsical drawings feature fresh fashion and fresh food (mostly produce)—two of my favorite things. The first time I peeped the Hayes Valley resident's Instagram, I literally gasped: The long-limbed beauty before me, created with a few bold black strokes and sunny-yellow lemon
slices stripes, was sporting the chicest look I had seen in a long time. Plus, it just made me happy. With almost 85,000 Insta followers and the recent publication of the (Rizzoli) book Edible Ensembles: A Fashion Feast For the Eyes, From Banana Peel Jumpsuits to Kale Frocks, clearly I'm not the only one devouring these yummy pairings.
I made it my business to stalk the onetime Vogue intern and native Missourian so I could fangirl and ask the 28-year-old a bunch of pressing questions. Like how the hell she gets broccolini to do that, what she likes about her day job as art director at Rothy's (makers of my preferred pointy flat), and whether or not she eats her subjects after she's done with them.
Keep reading for answers to these questions and more from our interview, one in which I learned that Röehrs the woman is just as charming as her stick figures.
7x7: How did the famous fashion/food doodles come to be?
Gretchen Röehrs: "It was all a joke. I just posted these funny drawings to my 32 Instagram followers and then people started liking and following and sharing and I had no control over it."
7x7: Do you have a favorite?
GR: "The banana is, just, gonzo bananas." [No wonder it's on the cover of her book.]
7x7: Were you always artistic and into food and fashion?
GR: "Always artsy, always eating. The only two constants in my life! You have a lot of time to focus on art in high school when you're a little chubby. No one was trying to get to second base with me, so I spent a lot of my time at the library renting obscure art and fashion films through the interlibrary loan."
7x7: What is your process for coming up with your drawings?
GR: "I just snap a picture of interesting fruit or vegetables, or draw around it on a sketchpad and then take a picture. No preserving here—I just eat it once it's done."
7x7: How does it feel to be an Instagram star?
GR: "A star! I wouldn't go that far. It's really flattering, and a bit unbelievable, that people know the series and find joy in it. I'd also like to tell the high school art teacher who tried to fail me, Mr. Harris, to go fly a kite."
7x7: Why do you think people love them so much?
GR: "Food and fashion are things people interact with every day—you eat and get dressed every day; each day is a new way to express yourself. Seeing these sorts of everyday things in a different way is amusing, I think."
7x7: How did the book deal come about?
GR: "Rizzoli approached me in 2015 to do a book of the series, and I was so flattered I immediately said yes. It was released earlier this year, and it contains a lot of new illustrations I have yet to post on my Instagram."
7x7: Have you scored other jobs from your doodles?
GR: "Lots! From The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, Sweetgreen, Whole Foods, and Chantal Guillon. The list still stuns me."
7x7: What else do you do besides fashion/foodie art?
GR: "My real art is my oil and gouache paintings, but people care about those a lot less than they do the food and fashion series, much to my chagrin."
7x7: Briefly, take us through your career.
GR: "OK, here we go—internship at Vogue (less coffee fetching, more digging thru the archives/assisting on photoshoots), designer at a fashion startup, product designer at a bank (looks/sounds weird, but banks are so ugly and I wanted to make an app that's at least beautiful when it tells me I've overdrawn on my account), art director at a shoe company (dream job)."
7x7: Tell us more about your current day job. Would you some day like to not have a day job?
GR: "I'm the art director for Rothy's, an SF-based company making beautiful shoes out of recycled water bottles. It's important for me to not be financially dependent on my art. San Francisco is really tough on artists—everything from finding a space to getting representation at a gallery is just unnecessarily hard. To have an added stress of trying to make rent would severely impact my ability to create, or force me to take on clients I don't like. Just because you have a day job does not mean you aren't an artist. If you can live off your trust fund and not have a day job, more power to you (but you're probably a terrible artist)."
7x7: Favorite local fashion?
GR: "Everything Emily Holt stocks at Hero Shop shoots to the top of my wish list. I might be biased, but I think Rothy's are the most comfortable shoe money can buy."
7x7: Favorite local food?
7x7: When did you move to SF? Where do you live now?
GR: "I set out West just as soon as I got my diploma. I chickened out of moving to New York because I didn't think I could hack (or afford) it. I ended up crashing on an ex's couch for far, far too long (sorry, Devin!) and eventually found myself in the Mission next to Tartine. I made a bad decision to move away from the epicenter of good food and out to Sea Cliff, then I wound up in Hayes Valley where I spend most of my time walking my two poorly trained hound dogs."
7x7: What's next?
GR: "I promised myself I would start courting galleries this year to show my paintings. Cross your fingers!"