This Artist Whips Up Masterpieces on Smoothies, Lattes and Toast

Brands like Warner Bros. and Le Creuset have an appetite for Hazel Zakariya's food art

Hazel Zakariya creates delectable drawings of people, animals and other subjects, using smoothies, lattes and toast as canvases.

Here, the London-based visual artist and digital creator, who shares her work on Instagram @hazelzakariya, talks about why she makes food art, which includes creations commissioned by clients such as Warner Bros., Le Creuset, Prime Video and Freeform.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

I am Malaysian. I went to New Zealand for my undergraduate studies under a scholarship for chemistry. I ended up living there for 12 years before moving to London five years ago with my husband, who's British, and our cat, Sparta.

I've worked over 10 years as a researcher and consultant across various industries, particularly in the innovation space and recently media, before making the shift to creative endeavors.

Aside from food and latte art, I'm working on more traditional art—painting on paper, etc.—as well as digital art, to create a wider range of offerings in the future.

How often do you make food art pieces, and what inspires you?

I try to make them weekly. I am often inspired by animals, nature, music, film/TV, pop culture, fine art and more. More recently, I'm very much inspired by memes, [stuff that's] fun and lighthearted that everyone can very much relate to. Similarly, I also love making toasts with motivational quotes/messages that touch on mental health, empathy, kindness and positivity.

There's a lot of love, joy and excitement that is poured into the process of creating [starting with] the idea generation stage. I want to share these feelings and the things that inspire me and make me laugh with others. With everything going on in the world today, I feel that it's important to spread joy, love, and kindness even through art.

One of my favorite pieces of yours features a sweet giraffe. Can you take me through how you made that one?

I love drawing animals. With this one in particular, I already had the initial idea of drawing a giraffe. I then thought of a smoothie base that would complement it as a backdrop, color-wise. So, I made a green smoothie.

I also love to complement my creations with the right choice of ceramics. Since the giraffe has a long neck, it'd be a rectangular bowl. Once the smoothie is in the bowl, I layered and outlined the giraffe with coconut cream before incorporating the "paint"—superfood powders mixed with coconut cream. I then created the giraffe using wooden skewers and a table knife.

Once that was done, I styled it with edible flowers in the smoothie, as well as other foliage/florals and props around the bowl, which helps add textures to the final image and make it pop.

I am also obsessed with this latte art you made of the zoned-out cat who appears in so many memes.

So many people, myself included, can relate to this cat's expressions. So, I just had to do a latte with it.

Similar to the process with smoothies, I chose the color that would go well with the subject as the backdrop—in this case, light green, using matcha sweetened with agave syrup. I used ready-made cold brew coffee, and layered it with whipped, sweetened oat cream.

I then "painted" the background with the matcha mixed with the cream.This gives a more natural look to the painting and adds a  cool stop-motion animation element to the video.

I then drew the outline of the cat with cream before incorporating the other colors using superfoods mixed with cream.

This cat inspired me to do a whole latte series dedicated to meme cats.

Do you have to work quickly and more efficiently given that you are making art with food?

Yes, I do have to work somewhat quickly. Working with food has given me a limited-time window to complete the art—therefore, less time to overthink things, which I really appreciate.

Additionally, working with food has also helped me embrace curiosity as well as broad thinking and interests—seeing different materials in a new light, seeing how a range of experiences can converge into creating something unique.

Can you tell me about your project for Warner Bros.?

The Harry Potter team reached out to me to create smoothie art video content for their Halloween campaign. They wanted to showcase creatives who use unique mediums and methods to create art. They wanted a design based on magical characters, creatures or icons from the Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts films.

Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I was so grateful and thrilled to be part of this project. I created a smoothie bowl based on the character Hedwig, Harry Potter's trusted owl.

And how about your collaboration with Le Creuset?

Le Creuset got in touch with me to create several different artworks for a summer campaign to showcase one of their iconic core colors—Caribbean—and incorporate messages aligned with the color story.

I am a big fan of Le Creuset and again, so honored to be part of this campaign and produce not one but four different videos. Inspired by their Caribbean line, I created a beach smoothie bowl and two motivational toasts with slogans that align with the color's theme—"Moment of Zen."

After you photograph or make a video of your food art to post on social media, do you eat it? Or give it to someone to eat?

Yes, I eat them. Or my husband and I will eat them together.

What do you get out of the experience of making ephemeral art?

People sometimes ask why I go through the trouble just to "destroy" the creations soon after. To be honest, I see it as an opportunity to create another piece of art through the swirling, shaking and spreading videos, which could not have been achieved using different or traditional media.

Ultimately, creating ephemeral art has taught me a lot about balance, letting go and looking at things holistically. It reminds me that life is temporary and that every moment and every beauty should be savored.

Christine Champagne
Muse contributor Christine Champagne is a writer based in NYC.

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