This week's #WCW goes to the lovely Linda Miller Nicholson AKA Salty Seattle who is the queen of creating the most colourful and beautiful vegetable-dyed pasta art. We love seeing women doing their own thing in their own beautiful way, find out more about Linda's most unique talent! We are obsessed with colour and food so thank you, Salty Seattle for making our dreams come true!!!
Tell us a little bit about you, an introduction?
I am a pasta artist. I make over 30 different colors of pasta using vegetables, herbs, and superfoods like butterfly pea flowers, spirulina, beets, turmeric, or nettles, to name a few. I weave all of those good-for-you colors of pasta dough into fun patterns like polka dots, hearts, stars, rainbows, or, to put it another way, virtually any striking design that beckons me to pasta-fy it.
Describe a little bit about what you do and where you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from fashion, textiles, nature, politics, art, and current events. I keep a running log of designs I want to make, and I’ve gone so far as to ask strangers to photograph a piece of their clothing if the pattern on it is something I think will translate to pasta well. I’m especially excited about the interface between the art, food, and fashion worlds, and I’m happy to be working in a place that’s rooted in all three.
Who are your favourite chefs/artists?
I’ve made several fine art pieces out of pasta, like Starry Night and Girl with a Pearl Earring, and I have an immense amount of respect for old-school, classic art, but I’m really drawn to people working in contemporary, unique mediums. I obsess over mural-style graffiti, especially when it’s both beautiful and thought-provoking. I want to turn every one of Yayoi Kusama’s works into pasta, and I also like the happy-crazy colliding world of Takashi Murakami.
I’ve had some mind-blowing dinners in famous restaurant kitchens by chefs like Jose Andres or Massimo Bottura, but I’m always happiest when I’ve been invited into someone’s home for a meal. The best food, like art, unites people, and can suspend mundane reality for a glimmer of connection that is transcendent of the actual food or art. I strive for that in what I create, and also in what I seek. Some of the best meal’s I’ve eaten have been made of less than 5 ingredients by someone’s grandma. Those are the connections I remember, the important moments of life. That being said, if I had to name a culinary mecca, it would be Piedmont, Italy. I could (and have) spend years meandering the countryside, stopping at random agriturismi along the way, eating simple food made with the best ingredients, and of course accompanied by plenty of Nebbiolo wine.
Do you consider yourself more of a chef or an artist?
Honestly, neither. I still feel like such a student of my craft, that even though I’ve been handmaking pasta since I was 4 (I’m 39 now), I would never call myself a chef. I always wanted to be an artist, but I never demonstrated much prowess in traditional media, so more than anything, I consider myself lucky that I was finally able to marry the thing I’m good at with the thing I strive to become, and have people like the result.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
You may not know it’s requisite for anyone who has had a child not to answer this question “having a child,” but it is, I’m telling you. You practically get lynched for saying anything else. But I’m lucky, because in a way, my greatest personal accomplishment- being Bentley Danger (age 9)’s mom, also led to my greatest professional achievement, which is making a living doing exactly what I love. His pickiness with vegetables a few years ago is what led me to create a vegetable-rich color palette of pasta, and it turned out trying to get him to eat colorful, beautiful things that also happened to be laden with veggies was an idea bigger than the both of us. To date it’s led to me writing a book, getting a live show with Food Network, and even being asked by Katy Perry’s team to recreate her single cover out of pasta.
What have you got planned for the future and what is your biggest future goal?
I’m a big fan of celebrating the now rather than dwelling in the uncertainty of the future, so mostly I’m just happy I can make a living doing what I love. But I’m excited that my book will be out in 2018, I’m working on producing pasta on a larger scale so I can finally share the art with lots of people, and I’ve got some fun media gigs and video projects debuting soon. My biggest future goal is teaching myself how to be happy with where I am currently, yet continuing to take risks that often lead to great opportunities.
Do you have any advice for any aspiring artists/chefs that want to do something a little different?
Continue to put the square peg in the round hole. Just because many, many people will tell you over time that it doesn’t fit, doesn’t mean they’re right. Eventually, if you continue to work hard pursuing what you love, you’ll whittle the square peg down and it will fit. It doesn’t happen overnight and you might have to change course more than once, but if you have a true passion and you work hard at it, it will turn into your main gig after enough pursuit. I like to say I’m finally what I wanted to be when I grew up, but the funny thing is, I could never have told you what that might have looked like until it all clicked. Hustle hard and life has a way of working out.