RAW: Illustration & Food

Since 2016, the Illustration School, based in Porto (Portugal), aims to investigate the expanded role of the illustrator as researcher, editor, publisher and working across media. The Summer 2019 edition, from the 14–20 July under the title RAW, focused on the relation between illustration and food, exploring a variety of approaches to illustration and the construction of visual narratives via architecture, printing, recipes and publishing. Through a series of workshops and food-related field trips and talks in an immersive week, this school exposed multiple ways in which different disciplines inform each other and contribute towards the development of the practice of illustration.

The course sought to build upon its previous iterations, traveling through the city and exploring various partnerships depending on the focus of the object of research. This edition used the word ‘RAW’ as a starting point to provide a diverse range of readings and processes related to this school’s central element: food. It specifically explored the idea of ‘unprocessed’, ‘uncooked’ and elements in their natural state to establish a series of connections to the practice of illustration and its current state through intersections with architecture, archives, photography and printing.

The course put particular emphasis on the importance of collective learning and research. Therefore, participants worked as a group as co-researchers, producing a collective publication at the end of the school, and documenting all the process of the week, as well as the tools and methods used.

The Illustration School 2019 focused on the relation between illustration and food, exploring a variety of disciplinary intersections through visual research.

Food as Research

From the relation between recipes as spaces to confront lists of ingredients, the illusion of programmable outcomes and mental visualisations of output, to the cooking process as a space for debate, this school established multiple connections with the practice of illustration. Intersections with explorations done by the Fluxus Group (via George Brecht, for example), a culture of food display and composition open up a variety of relations between disciplines, such as architecture via the design of the kitchen space. The Illustration School is therefore committed to the continuous exploration of the expanded role of the illustrator, adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to its practice and its understanding through open, visual research.

Photo by Matilde Viegas

The Summer edition of the Illustration School 2019 established a series of partnerships with food-related venues in order to conduct workshops and experiments. Partners and collaborators include Antonia & Sergio’s organic farm in the Valley of Douro, LOCAL, epoca, Back to Eden B2EPao da Terra, and SKREI.


Hugo Dunkel invited us at LOCAL, an associative project focusing on the transition to a local, healthy and sustainable food culture. We discussed about the the politics of compost and made comparisons between food culture and food systems.

Photo by Matilde Viegas

Lexie Smith

Lexie Smith from Bread on Earth focused on the spaces between information, intuition, and knowledge, and the importance of documentation, dissemination, and ownership of experience and production. She encouraged the personalization of the recipe form as a method of critical consumption.

Inês Neto Dos Santos

Inês Neto Dos Santos mapping, discussing and preparing (RAW) food with the participants as a metaphor for rituals & traditions, (slow) process, its source (locality), and more.

Orlando Lovell

Orlando Lovell with Eat Your Feelings, a session from mouth to mind, which used the medium of cake to discover and experiment personal and societal emotions connected to sweet food and their consumption.

Matilde Seabra

Matilde Seabra gave us a talk & a tour of the city of Porto (Portugal) along side the river Douro and detailed its different locations in relation to the food trade which shaped the architectural city through the centuries.

The relation between architecture and food was explored in a talk/tour led by Matilde Seabra from Talkie-Walkie around the city of Porto along side the river Douro and its different locations in relation to the food trade which shaped the architectural city through the centuries. Architecture was used as a bridge, investigating different forms of analysing and measuring, documenting, mapping and reenacting an environment in relation to food.

The architecture studio SKREI, in collaboration with talkie-walkie, welcomed us on a tour in their fantastic studio and showed us how nature and bacteria can teach us how to built a better future.

The study and use of archives are central to the Illustration School. Each school investigates different archives from the cities of Porto. With this school focusing on food, collaborations have been established with a variety of institutions.

Illustration is a field and a discipline in constant change, existing within the wider context of Visual Communication. Since the early 2000s, digital printing allowed illustration (following graphic design) to increase an interest in self- publishing and with it, an expansion of its areas of activity. While the advent of new media in the late 1990s saw an increase of the tools used by illustrators, such as digital animation, 3D rendering and web-based work, it was the emergence of research and the political conditions of the economic and social crisis of 2008 that accelerated an expansion of the field.The methods, systematisation and rigour of academic research encouraged illustration to interact, learn and borrow from other disciplines, while promoting the idea of the illustrator as researcher. The precarity that was increased since 2008 and the easiness of distribution produced conditions for a rapid developing field that departed a long time ago from the traditional view of the illustrator as an individual who works alone and solely uses drawing as both method and output. Drawing continues, and will continue, to be central in Illustration. But what we’re aiming to investigate and debate at the Illustration School is precisely this transition, this expansion created by interests and detours.

Education is intimately connected to this transition. Illustration education varies from continent to continent and country to country. We aim to debate shared problems, challenges and possibilities. This is, in fact, the central goal of the Illustration School, of which this particular course is one lab to explore one of these intersections, with a focus on food. This course proposed new methods to conduct visual research in illustration, seeking parallels and extrapolations between different forms of thinking and making. Therefore, tours and designed experiences were created as investigative frameworks for translations to illustration practice to exist. The goal of the course was to generate methods and perspectives that bridge and overlap illustration with other disciplines, practices, traditions, cultures. We hope to be able to continue to allow this kind of independent platform to exist and contribute to the development of such an important discipline in profound transition. This publication condenses the diversity of this experience.

Karen Lacroix
Coordinator of the Illustration School

The City of Porto

Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, located along the Douro river estuary, opposite to Gaia. Famous for being home to the Port Wine, its historical centre is World Heritage Site since 1996 and it has been considered as ‘European Best Destination’ 3 times in the last 5 years. Porto is a culturally rich city, with a lively cultural programme with illustration galleries, artist-run projects, historic archives and museums, increasingly hosting smaller projects and residencies. Based in the centre of the city (Campo 24 de Agosto and Marquês metro stations), in a 1937 typical house from Porto, the school will use the city’s many resources to inform the course, seeking a decentralised education.

Photo by Matilde Viegas

Illustration School, Summer edition, Porto, 2019
Coordinator & Tutor
Karen Lacroix, Shared Institute

Matilde Seabra, Talkie-Walkie
Inês Neto dos Santos, Mesa
Orlando Lovell, Cakes Are Not Evil
Margarida Correia
Lexie Smith, Bread on Earth


Karen Lacroix is an illustrator, designer and publisher based in Porto, Portugal. She has taught visual narratives from 2009—2014 at Richmond University (UK) and works for an eclectic range of clients such as Bright Ivy, English Touring Opera, Saffron Hall, Bishopsgate Institute, among others. After concluding an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, she founded Uncanny Editions, an illustration publisher and studio exploring different modes of publication practice, collaborating with institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery and X Marks the Bökship . Her work is represented in collections such as MoMA (US), University College London, London College of Communication (UK), Serralves Foundation and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (PT), among others. She is the founder of the Illustration School, a nomadic pedagogical platform that investigates the expanded field of illustration and is co-director of the design research centre Shared Institute.

Matilde Seabra is a graduate of the School of Architecture of the University of Porto and co-founder of the architecture studio Poças Martins Seabra. She is part of the collective that edits the architecture fanzine Friendly Fire. Between 2009 and 2013 she was assistant tutor at the Polytechnic Institute of Porto on the MA in Visual Arts and Artistic Technologies. Matilde is experienced in working with several cultural institutions such as the Serralves Foundation, José de Guimarães International Art Center and Douro Museum. Co-founder of Talkie Walkie.

Inês Neto dos Santos is a multi-disciplinary artist, born in Lisbon and based in London. She graduated from MA Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art in 2016. Inês’s work explores the value of spaces, whether architectural or natural, and our relationship to them, investigating their emotional and social value and considering them as vessels for memory. Her practice often takes shape in immersive spaces, experiences or installations and frequently runs on collaborations with other artists and creatives. Recently, Inês has explored the value of food and shared eating spaces, considering the dinner table as a fundamental platform for discussion and conversation. She founded Mesa.

Orlando Lovell is a designer based in Berlin. After a Foundation Degree at Central Saint Martins, she is a graduate from the Eindhoven Design Academy, where she also studied at the Food Non Food Department. She has run workshops at the University of Manchester and worked as assistant curator at Palais de Tokyo. She is the founder of Cakes Are Not Evil baking business in Berlin. She is presently the Communications Manager at The Dutch Institute of Food&Design.

Margarida Correia was born in Lisbon, Portugal. She lives and works in New York and Lisbon. She received an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Correia had solo shows at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, the AIR Gallery in New York, at Real Art Ways in Hartford, the Texas Woman’s University in Denton (USA), the EDP Foundation, the Museum of São Roque, Gallery Monumental, University of Lisbon, Gallery 111 in Lisbon, the Museum D. Diogo Sousa in Braga and the São João da Madeira Art Center in Portugal.

Partners & Collaborators
Pao da Terra
Alfaiate do Livro 
Back to Eden B2E
Teresa Santos
sketch notes are awesome

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Illustration School
Rua Coutinho de Azevedo 22
4000-187 Porto, Portugal
info [at] illustration.school