Andrea Lala: On Illustration and her portable studio

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Andrea Lala is an illustrator whose work you are likely to have seen around Bratislava. She's a designer with many hats; her portfolio consisting mainly of food illustration, alongside tattooing, embroidering, and everyday illustrations.

I have known Andrea for a while. She is a dear friend of mine and has supported us many times with PAKTA STUDIO, advising us on products or helping out at markets and in our store. In the past, she has held a wide variety of jobs - working in the reception of a sports centre, in a bar, and in shops. Nowadays, she is devoted solely to freelance illustration.

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"Until recently, I struggled with illustration. It was difficult working for clients because I thought I could only design for myself, not for others. But since I changed my major away from Illustration and began to work on projects voluntarily, I found a way to enjoy it. To stay excited and energised, I find myself needing to work beyond just 2D space, which is why I like to explore working with various media. During my bachelor's degree, I would embroider at concerts, or I'd draw in bars. I even tried sketching whilst riding a bike, which eventually led to me learning to embroider whilst on a unicycle. I get bored very easily when doing monotonous activities, and so tend to think of some extremes to keep me entertained."

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Andrea's current focus on food illustration has been something that's been fascinating to me since she has a very interesting relationship with food.

"I didn't get to food illustration by accident. My body sometimes has trouble digesting certain foods, and so I always have to be careful about what I am eating. At first, I had to record all my meals, taking notes of any reactions that came about afterwards. I wanted to find a way of making this boring task more enjoyable, and so I started to draw the meals. This made me more interested in food and its composition, appearance, and its influence on us. And eventually, over time, drawing food has become my passion. I didn't focus on just drawing foods that I loved or foods that looked appetising, but I also created a collection of critical paintings of the foods served in Slovak school canteens and hospitals."

Every cloud has a silver lining, and this potential misfortune has turned into a great asset for Andrea; her food illustrations have brought about several collaborations with bistros and restaurants. Most of these projects tend to start with drawings of various foods and meals or creating illustrations for a menu, but over time they tend to explore other concepts. One example is her latest collaboration with a bistro, where the design work has evolved from food illustration into plant illustration. And it is the variety and unexpected journey of each project that she most enjoys.

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Andrea doesn't currently have a studio space of her own, and so her studio is mobile, travelling everywhere with her on her back. Yet what she carries with her day-to-day has always intrigued me. It consists of a graphic's tablet, laptop, charger, mouse, sketchbook, a journal, another sketchbook, an external charger, something she calls a pouch of mystery (I didn't dig deeper), a chewing gum pouch (which is very important, she says), and a pencil case. It's not often that I see Andrea without this whole assortment, and it very much matches her personality. Where a "freelance artist" meets minimalism, carrying what she needs, allowing her to work wherever she is inspired - whether it be the doctor's waiting room or travelling on the train. 

"In my collection of drawings from different places, there are surely some from the waiting rooms of doctors. Some were drawn on the spot, and others finished at home by memories of specific people. I've always been somewhat of a magnet for spontaneous conversations, and so have plenty of stories to pull inspiration from."
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Andrea Lala documents her stories and illustrations on her Instagram, @andrealala_studio.

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