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 2018 edition, from the 16–21 July, focused on the relation between illustration and food, exploring a variety of approaches to illustration and the construction of visual narratives via architecture, recipes and publishing. Through a series of workshops and food-related field trips and talks in six intensive days, 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, by traveling through the city and exploring various partnerships depending on the focus of the object of research. The Botanic Garden of PortoOliva & Co and an organic agriculture farm and producers are just a few of a list of partners that will provide a diverse range of readings and processes related to this school’s central element: food.

The course puts particular emphasis on the exploration of the importance of collective work and research. Therefore, participants worked as a group, producing a collective publication at the end of the summer school, documenting all the process of the week, as well as tools and methods used.

The Illustration Summer School 2018 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.

The relation between architecture and food was explored and used as a bridge between the two, investigating different forms of analysing and measuring, documenting, mapping and reenacting an environment. This was used to reflect how, throughout history, the act of cooking generates different spaces of congregation and the kitchen is used as a lab, in which resources are transformed into social interactions.

Print as Research
Print as research investigated a series of printmaking methods that facilitate the illustration process, using several alternative processes based on historical techniques. During the workshop, old and new methods were mixed with the freedom of tactile expression, as well as with the openness to experiment the potential of the use of mechanical devices such as the photocopier, transfer techniques, in the context of the research project.

The study and use of archives are central to the Illustration School. Each school investigates different archives from the cities of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia and Matosinhos, with an alignment with the course’s object of study. With this school focusing on food, collaborations have been established with a variety of institutions, from wine to a collection of herbs. These were visited during the summer school and informed the workshops, being also able to host a final exhibition on the first year, in 2016.

Book Making
Bookbinding was used as a way to establish translation and potential connections with food, especially in relation to its material qualities.

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.

Collective publication produced by the participants in the context of the Illustration Summer School 2017. (50 copies)

Illustration School,Summer 2018,Porto, Portugal

Illustration School,
Summer 2018,
Porto, Portugal
Food & Illustration

Coordinator & Tutor
Karen Lacroix, Uncanny Editions

Matilde Seabra, Talkie-Walkie
Emma Löfström
Inês Neto dos Santos, Mesa
Alexandra Rafael
Catarina Azevedo

Paulo Moreira Architecture
Jardim Botânico do Porto
Oliva & Co


Karen Lacroix is an illustrator, designer and publisher based in Porto, Portugal. She has taught visual narratives since 2009 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.

Emma Lö­fström (Uppsala, Sweden) is a visual artist based between Stockholm and London, graduated from the Royal College of Art (2009) and Central Saint Martins College of Art (2007). She creates works on paper, installations and moving image that focus on the relationship between natural and human history. Recent exhibitions include On The Edge Of Time at SPACE Art + Technology, London, and Myth of the Cicada as part of Strange Cities, a group exhibition at Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens.

Catarina Azevedo is a designer and bookbinder based in Porto, Portugal. After finishing a BA in Communication Design at the School of Arts of the University of Porto in 2011, she established her own studio Alfaiate do Livro, focusing on handcrafted bookbinding. The studio has worked with a variety of clients such as ESAD Matosinhos, Atelier Martino & Jaña and illustrator Catarina Sobral. In 2015 she joined the collective Chapa Azul, aiming to set up a travelling printing workshop.

Alexandra Rafael is a printmaking artist based in Porto, Portugal. She holds an MA in Drawing and Printmaking from the School of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, where she developed research about transfer processes to printmaking surfaces. Since then she has been participating in several exhibitions and artistic residencies around the country.

Bibliography/ Bibliografia
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Markus, M. (2016). The Archives As A Productive Space Of Conflict.
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John, B. (1972). Ways Of Seeing. Penguin.
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Orhan, P. (2012). The Innocence Of Objects. Abrams
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The Decorators, (2015). Ridley’s: Recipes for Food and Architecture.
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Bruno, F. Dulcineia, N. Pedro, B. Susana, L. (2016). A Arquitetura Moderna Foi Para O Céu. Teo lo Rego. Perro Le Fou.
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Illustration School
Rua Coutinho de Azevedo 22
4000-187 Porto, Portugal
info [at]

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.