MENu design, 2010-2015
When I was 11 or 12 I used the program called Claris Works to create a clipart-heavy "Redwall Cookbook," using recipes from some fantastic late 90s geocities sites, made to celebrate the furry gourmands of the book series. I never turned back.
This extended, by my mid to late teenage years, into making ridiculously extensive packaging for burned CDRs. I was someone who bought CDs and records, but used the internet to just geek out more, and get "unreleased" or "lost" albums by bands I loved. This was in the now nearly forgotten early-mid 2000s, where it was easy to download and share music, but you didn't have anything to play that music from but a CD player. I typed out the lyrics and made booklets, sewn with twine. Yup, that ridiculous.
My freshman year of college I stumbled into the 'poster and programs designer' job for both the Dance and Drama departments of my college. I learned Adobe Illustrator by about the third week of that September, when there was already a dance exhibition to design for. I held the job for four years, expanding my poster design repertoire to include the Classic Film Series I was organizing, and music shows put on by the bands I was in or involved with. There was a time where you'd walk around the campus and the majority of the posters you'd see were my designs. The others, to my (I'll admit) smirking delight, were trying to look like them.
I started taking it quite seriously by senior year, having done a few internships with publishers and developing a serious interest in book design. After college, I started volunteering for the Independent Publishing Resource Center here in Portland, where I'd done my final long term internship. There I developed the practice of letterpress printing, eventually starting a small press, and have continued making posters and menus and all sorts of printed ephemera for all of my projects ever since.
We started Secret Restaurant in 2010, and by the 3rd dinner we had our act together enough to do printed menus. Not every dinner has a had a printed menu– I love writing it off the cuff on a chalkboard– but most have. Some were letterpress printed, some were simple photocopies on old construction paper, some were run through a typewriter, some were written by hand, some were printed with stamps, some were glossy photo postcard style, and some I don't even remember making. I love looking back on them and seeing where we hastily trimmed them, minutes before guests arrived, or where a dinner guest wrote their name on a menu-ticket.
These menus have been archived since the beginning, some more carefully than others, and we thought it'd be a fun thing, as a sort of 5th Anniversary celebration, to showcase them.