A lightbulb sparked for Craig Nordeen when red, white and blue doughnuts arrived at his workplace around this time last year.
Nordeen, who works as a designer at an advertising firm, saw potential for the doughnuts beyond a delectable snack. Using Adobe Illustrator, Nordeen recreates famous American paintings, photographs and historical moments with pastries in place of people — usually doughnuts or cupcakes.
Since July 2014, he has created 46 Pastriotics, and plans to complete the project with number 50 by July 4th this year. The website houses the drawings, with odes to patriotism and pastries sprinkled throughout the site. Revolutionary-era music completes the effect as one scrolls through the collection.
“Donuts, besides that Americans love them, there’s not a real strong connection between that and America. So that’s kind of that bridge, is finding artwork. People will see these and recognize them and maybe [the Pastriotics will] even get people to think a little bit more about our history and maybe learn something they hadn’t thought of before,” Nordeen said.
Nordeen said he’s always creating art, whether for work or on his own. Thus, the idea to draw doughnuts donning historic American garb came naturally. At first, he thought he’d create a few graphics and submit it to a DIY t-shirt company to make some shirts, but he realized he wanted to go further. He started with an image of a revolutionary band.
“I’ll always have a pang in my heart for that one,” Nordeen said of his first Pastriotic, pictured below.
Nordeen went through with designing merchandise, which includes shirts, mugs, posters, throw pillows and more. But the project was never about selling anything, he said. Most of the effort right now is on completing the 50 Pastriotics, for which he typically spends one to a few hours each.
Though he doesn’t focus too much on the merchandise, Nordeen said he has enjoyed seeing a few people wearing Pastriotic tee shirts.
“I wanted to run and give them a hug, but I haven’t. It wasn’t really for people to buy stuff. … It was really about, I wanted to create something that everyone would enjoy,” Nordeen said. “It’s just fun for me to make something that I can share with people.”
Nordeen said the website has grown to receive about 100 visits per day, and that he hopes to get national attention in the future.
When asked if we will ever see real-life Pastriotics, Nordeen said, “When I finished last year’s, I had these big ideas for this year to work with a pastry shop and make some of these … It’s amazing how time just runs away from you, and I haven’t had a chance to do that.”
Still, Nordeen said he’s contemplating continuing his work after number 50 for fun.
“We’ll see if people keep looking at them and getting excited about them [and] have more of an inventive way next year to take these from the computer into something a little bit bigger,” he said.
The artist said he keeps a notebook handy for ideas, as well as his phone.
“It’s really just being aware of what’s around you and thinking just a little bit differently,” Nordeen said. “If you just start to flip it on a side a little bit and look at it from different perspectives, you can pretty much take anything and make something creative out of it.”