Designing The Small Kitchen Cook, with Casey Schuurman

We first discovered Casey’s design talents when she dropped us a line after buying a copy of our best-selling cookbook, Fire To Fork. Though, we had seen her gorgeous hand lettering skills in one of our favourite magazines, Frankie, without knowing who the talent was behind the art.

As soon as we scrolled through Casey’s work on her website and socials, we knew she’d be the perfect fit for our next cookbook project. Teaming up with Casey for The Small Kitchen Cook was an absolute dream, to say the least. We’re so proud of the final result and we can’t wait for it to hit the bookstores next month! But in the meanwhile, we’ve asked Casey to share a little behind her design process.

G’day Casey! Let’s kick off with ‘who is Casey Schuurman’ in 3 words.

Smiley Design Nerd sums me up.

Haha. Yeah, we can testify to the smiley bit. Now, let’s talk all things Small Kitchen Cook. This cookbook is a visual feast and your design skills play a huge part in that. What’s your favourite visual element that you brought to the book?

Thank you! I relished the opportunity to bring hand-drawn touches to so many different parts of this book. Looking at it now, I think my favourite element is the combination of the written recipe titles and spot illustrations. My aim was to bring character and a little intimacy to this special collection of recipes from the heart, and I think they do just that. 

Toward the end of the design process, we asked if you could hand letter the front cover. With little time, you did a damn fine job! Tell us a little about the process.

Hand-lettering was always on the cards for the cover, and as much as it stacked on extra work so close to print, I was (and am) not-so-secretly happy I was asked to do it.

How it came together is a little blurry (I was definitely ‘in the zone’) but as I recall it, we settled on a simple script to bring some extra warmth to the cover. I then got to work on a rough sketch directly over the cover image using my iPad. As I was drawing, ideas popped up on how to incorporate illustrative cooking and van elements into the title. I showed the team (you guys!) and to my surprise, you loved it. I boarded a plane to head home and spent the flight finessing the design before sending the final version for approval. All up, I’d estimate it took 5 -6 hours from start to finish. Working from first sketch to final artwork entirely on my iPad meant the lettering was so easily editable and came together pretty smoothly. Phew!

What’s your favourite spread from The Small Kitchen Cook, design-wise.?

Is this what it feels like to try and choose your favourite child? My answer would likely change on any given day… but today I’d be choosing between the equipment spread (pages 22–23) or the Pearl Barley Risotto recipe (pages 120–121) which highlights all the different elements together beautifully. 

What’s one meal that you can’t wait to cook (or, perhaps you already have) from Small Kitchen?

Again, I can’t offer up just one! The Kangaroo Curry and Chicken Noodle Soup have already been on solid rotation in my household this winter. I’m hanging out for warmer weather to make Ceviche, Prawn Tostadas, Sardine Bruschetta and Fish Tacos (big seafood fan here!).

What’s the best thing about designing a cookbook?

Coming up with a solid design template that works across so many recipe layouts — I find that so satisfying! A large collection of new recipes to try is a close second though. 

And the worst thing

Making sure the smallest details are as they should be (when changes are inevitably made closer and closer to the deadline). Oh, and feeling hungry every time I work on the book! 

You have a feature on your website called ‘books I wish existed’. I found it really entertaining to read. My faves include ‘How to convincingly ignore someone you know in public’ and ‘How to not look like a tourist while holding a map’.

Anyhow … what’s your dream book to design?

Books I Wish Existed was a fun self-initiated project from a few years back! You can see it here. I’d love to design a cookbook focussed on pastries and cakes! Designing a monograph/catalogue of an artist’s lifework is on my design bucket list, too.  

Thanks Casey. It’s been awesome working with you on The Small Kitchen Cook and we can’t wait to work with you again. For more of Casey’s work, check out her website and sign up to her fun ‘Rise and Shine’ newsletter, or follow her insta.

Write a response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


G'day, and welcome to our Australian website. It looks like
you're in North America, so maybe you'd prefer to check our
our North American website, which offers all our books for
sale in American dollars, and the shipping is so much cheaper.


Hey, we noticed you're leaving, but you've left something in your cart?
Before you leave, we wanted to offer you 15% off your purchase.
Just use the code – exploring – at checkout.

Did you know that for every book you order, we plant one tree?