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interviewswhat's in your toolbox

What’s in Your Toolbox: Erin Scott

by Ginny


Erin Scott is the kind of photographer/food blogger whose work is the perfect place to rest your weary eyes after a long day. Her words and images on her blog, Yummy Supper, instantly cure what ails you and are a true sight for sore eyes. I aspire to be the kind of sensory, evocative artist in the kitchen that she is, though I am beginning to worry that this might be too lofty an aspiration! In the meantime, I will continue to devour (pun absolutely intended) each post and live vicariously through her camera lens. Warning: I repeat, do not read this on an empty stomach! —Ginny

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?


Erin Scott: I cannot live without my camera, a Canon 5D Mark II.

For food photography and styling, I have a gazillion props. Hand-carved wooden cutting boards and kitchen tools from Josh Vogel at Blackcreek Mercantile and Trading. Vintage linens and all sorts of cutlery picked up at the Alameda Flea Market and little antique shops around the world. A Victorian mortar and pestle I bought in Hobart, Tasmania. Silver from my Greek grandmother and pewter trays from my aunt. A hodgepodge of china: a stack of assorted white plates, custom ceramics from my father-in law, John Scott, and bits and pieces from Esther Derkx and Heath Ceramics. Plus, I have an obsession with twine and canning jars.

For portrait and lifestyle work, I need only my camera, natural light, people, and life.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel _____________.”

Read the full interview after the jump . . .

3. Design*Sponge: What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Erin Scott: Kinfolk is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time: everything about it speaks to me — the beauty, humanity, and delicious calm. Patti Smith’s Just Kids makes me want to live fearlessly and create art with abandon. Right now, I’m reading An Everlasting Meal, and Tamar Adler is rocking my world with her luscious prose. At bedtime, I’m re-reading The Secret Garden to my girl, Lilah, and I’m totally inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s profound lessons on the power of nature. We all need to read this one again!

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Erin Scott: I keep at least one notebook going at a time. I jot down everything, from recipe and story ideas to project outlines for clients.

As a mom, I have spent years fitting jobs and shoots into whatever crevice of time I can find. Recently I have begun to cordon off specific days devoted to time in my studio. This scheduling decision has been a boon to my creative world!

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Erin Scott: I would slow down time so that I could savor certain moments even more.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Erin Scott: Do what you love. Make tons of mistakes. Don’t be afraid. Keep going.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Erin Scott: I spend time in nature. Seeing the light flicker on the Pacific, breathing in the fresh wet air of the nearby woods, digging in my own veggie garden, or slurping oysters on Tomales Bay — all are deeply rejuvenating. The lush landscape of Northern California is endlessly inspiring for me. I always keep little bits of the natural world in my studio as a reminder: branches of bay, fennel blossoms from my garden, a turkey wishbone, and a sliver of fossilized sand dollar I found on the beach in Bolinas.

When I’m in a rut in my kitchen, I go out to eat and get re-inspired by other people’s palates. One spot that always makes me happy is Camino in Oakland. Russ Moore, the chef there, is amazing. . . . his food is fresh, inventive, and belly-warming good.

Travel is a cure-all. Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to spend 11 months traveling around the world with my husband and two kids. That time on the road, visiting places from Bali to Tasmania to Istanbul, filled me with enough inspiration to last at least a decade!


8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Erin Scott: My neighborhood grocery — Monterey Market — is always packed with a rainbow of ultra-fresh fruits and veggies just begging to be taken home to my kitchen.

Flowerland, a newish lifestyle shop in Albany, has the best selection of twines and small kitchen and garden goodies (which I can never resist).

Pt. Reyes Books, in West Marin, is a classic independent bookstore where I always leave with books I love.


Yard sales and eBay are great for cast-iron pans, vintage canning jars, and old cameras like my Polaroid Land Camera from the ’70s.

Kaufmann Mercantile and March are brilliant shops that always hold temptation.

I also troll the local salvage yards (C&K Salvage in Oakland is my favorite) and hardware stores for props. I am in love with my old white-washed desk that we built by simply taking century-old pockmarked planks, rubbing them with saddle soap, and propping them on plain old saw horses, sprayed white. Simple, old and perfect.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be, and why?

Erin Scott: Christopher Hirsheimer. Because her photography is so beautiful, it leaves me breathless (and really hungry!).

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Erin Scott: When I work, I like silence. I do enjoy listening to music with my family. Especially in the darker winter months, the four of us sit in the living room by the fire, cozy up, and listen to records together. We recently put together an old-school ’70s sound system; the music sounds so warm, and I love the flawed moments of old vinyl. On heavy rotation are my mom’s calypso records from her Caribbean childhood, early Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Diana Ross, and Ray Charles.

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