Zingerman’s Lavishly Illustrated Catalogs

Zingerman’s Catalog - Breads

I’m a big fan of the mail order catalogs from the Ann Arbor, MI-based Zingerman’s, which sells all kinds of foods—cheese, cured meats, olive oil and even pecan pies. The pages completely eschew photography in favor of illustrations that curiously balance the whimsical and the intricate.

Zingerman’s Catalog - Pastries

You’ll find a fair share of fun spot drawings of the sort that would enliven any catalog, but what’s more interesting is how Zingerman’s illustrators lavishly portray their food products. The leavened texture of breads, the specific patinas of cheese rinds, the marbled cross-sections of salamis…these details and more are all lovingly and painstakingly rendered by hand to give customers a very clear picture of the product they’re buying. Yet at the same time they’re highly stylized, too—the line quality of the drawings is exaggerated in its roughness and perspective is thrown out the window to an almost Cubist effect. It’s surely the weirdest combination of realism and artistic license ever put into service of a mail order catalog.

Zingerman’s Catalog - Cheeses

You can browse the latest catalog at zingermans.com.