Leslie Wang loves to draw; specifically, she loves to draw food. As a graduate student in environmental graphic design at Lawrence Tech, she often turned lunch at the RFoC into modeling sessions as she elevated typical luncheon fare like pizza into art.
Since graduating in May she has been working to turn her love of drawing food into a publishing venture. She has already produced prototypes for illustrated culinary guides for Lisbon in Portugal, her home city of Taipei in Taiwan, London and Paris. In the process, she is seeking the best way to use her art to promote the cuisine of different countries because she also loves to travel.
Wang has been interested in illustrating food since she was a child, and she attended art school in Taiwan before getting a bachelor’s degree in children’s English education from the National Taipei University of Education. A student exchange brought her to the Detroit area, and that’s when she heard about LTU’s environmental graphic design master’s degree program that focuses on using art in the built environment – way-finding signage is a primary example.
She stumbled upon an opportunity to pursue food illustrating by taking advantage of the increasing number of opportunities at LTU to study abroad. On a trip to Bolivia, she provided instruction in simple design skills and also did illustrations for a culinary school as a volunteer. That led to her to create the décor and menu for a restaurant for a research paper on educational environmental graphic design in a dining environment.
“By the time I graduated I had a pretty good portfolio for restaurants,” she said.
During the 2015 spring semester she took LTU courses in Lisbon and then stayed an additional two months after the semester concluded to pursue her idea for a culinary guide for Lisbon. She got support from several restaurants in the city interested in attracting more tourists.
“This is a pilot project to bring food culture into a platform that people are interested in,” Wang said. “Art is an expression of what you are interested in. People celebrate food, but most of the time they take it for granted. Even a sandwich should be celebrated.”
Her first 20-page pamphlet on the cuisine of Portugal was printed on craft paper. It sold out its initial press run of 150 in a month, and she used the proceeds to develop the next guide for London. She also started Ounce Studio as another way to promote local food culture and to bring environmental graphic strategies to restaurants.
She recently returned to Metro Detroit after presenting her research paper on educational environmental graphic design in a dining environment to the first European Conference on Understanding Food Design in Milan. She plans to attend the American conference when it is held in New York City.
As she gains more experience in the field of culinary art, Wang will look for new ways to combine her love of drawing with her love of food. It’s a quest that has already taken her to many countries.
She is one of the many LTU students who take advantage opportunities that the university provides in eight countries.
“International experiences open students up to valuable perspectives about the world and their place in it, an increased sense of responsibility, and adaptability,” said Davey McConnell, an LTU student engagement coordinator. “Students come back more engaged, more perceptive, and more driven in their chosen fields.”
For more information on Wang’s art, go to ouncestudio.com.