Jeff Martin goes to a lot of restaurants. Unlike most of us, he spends a lot of his time in the kitchens. In fact, the Australia-based painter’s scenes of restaurant kitchens in Sydney and Melbourne form the basis for his first Blurb book, Back of House. He designed the book with BookSmart, choosing our Large Square (12 x 12 inches) trim size and Premium Matte Paper. He chose to print on a black background so there would be, “no fighting with the color of the works.” We talked to Martin about traveling for work, sketching in tight places, and making a book with Blurb.
Blurb: I think the first thing we’d like to know is why you chose restaurant kitchens as your subject.
Jeff Martin: I have a background in the hospitality industry, which helped pay for canvas and paint in the early years. The “Back of House” series came about due to my access and contacts. It really is a celebration of the kitchen and all the hard-working people that do it, day in and day out, at this level.
Blurb: How did you select the particular restaurants for your book?
Jeff Martin: The restaurants in this book are 30 of the best in each city. Any food lover that is from Melbourne or Sydney, or has visited, will know most of these establishments. Some are even recognized in the S.Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in the World list.
Blurb: Restaurant kitchens are notoriously busy places. Was it difficult to be a fly on the wall in such a crowded environment?
Jeff Martin: My experience in the industry is my greatest asset, as I understand what is happening and how to stay out of the way. It is not something anyone without my level of experience would be allowed to do. There have been kitchens that are a bit tight but there is always a way to work around the situation without causing an issue.
Blurb: What particular medium do you use for the final paintings?
Jeff Martin: They are all oil on Belgian linen. The paintings are all large, 150 x 180 centimeters in either portrait or landscape, depending on my sketches and the layout of space. I placed the two last photographs in the book in an attempt to convey size to anyone that has not seen the works in person.
Watch a video and read more from our interview with Jeff Martin