Illustration by Jessica Mercado

On Creating "George and Glenda Make Dinner"

Illustration by Jessica MercadoI was very pleased to find that the short story assigned to me for the Fall 2018 issue of the North American Review was about food. I have a passion for not only cooking food, but also drawing and painting food. I have always found that food and art are very similar in that people eat with their eyes. The texture, shapes, and colors in food are always entertaining to paint and a fun challenge to make my audience believe how tasty the subject is. Painting the naan and dal was a treat.   

Another way I believe that food and art are similar is that they are great media to bring different people together. I felt this connection with George and Glenda’s characters in “Shrubs” by Susan M. Gilbert-Collins. Scale is something that I wanted to play around more and felt this was a good opportunity as well as a way to convey how important this dinner was to Susan’s character. George is trying his best to impress his love, Cynthia, and what other way than to use the metaphor of a heart shaped plate to fill his affection for her. 

As I was sketching for this piece and playing with the scale of the characters, I couldn’t help but remember the late 90’s Nickelodeon short animations “Amby and Dexter” where two very tiny characters are working together to accomplish human-scaled activities. This unintentionally became my modern take on it. Glenda and George are working together to make the best impression for Cynthia.

Jessica Mercado

Jessica Mercado is a New Jersey based illustrator with BFA in illustration. She uses lighting, color, and composition to create mood and meaning between her characters’ interactions. Jessica’s goal is to make her audience feel distinctive emotions through the understanding of what her characters are experiencing. Jessica’s motive is to create narrative illustrations that are thought-provoking, sensory driven, and pure. With her sense of color and lines, Jessica expresses a sense of whimsy and energy that is effortless and never overwhelming.      

Jessica is always open for commission, big or small, and you can view her work on Instagram @jessmerco, or on her website, All inquires can be sent to Illustration provided by Jessica Mercado.

Jessica's illustration is featured in our upcoming fall issue, Volume 303.4.