Our new story comes from Diana Araújo, Portuguese architect/illustrator living in Belgium. During last year, while staying at home due to the pandemic, Diana started an Instagram page “Like a Belgian“, making cartoons of Belgian life through the eyes of an expat. She shared with us the motivation behind this project: “For me, this was the best way to interact with people and appreciate the best of your country, at the same time that we were struggling with everything that was going on.” Enjoy the reading and a selection of lovely illustrations!
Could you tell us more about yourself and why did you move to Belgium?
I am a Portuguese architect and I moved to Belgium in February 2020. I did my Erasmus in Gent, at KU Leuven, in 2016/17 and I liked it here so much that I decided to come back, after 2 years of working at an office in Lisbon. Besides the amazing creative atmosphere that I experienced here as a student and now as an architect, I also fell in love with the Belgian culture and society, so it was very easy to take the decision of moving my life to your country.
However, anywhere you go, you will always experience a kind of cultural shock and realize that some habits that you take for granted and universal can actually vary from country to country. And that was the beginning of everything… First, the talks that I would have with the locals to understand their culture, and then the conversations with my other international friends that were going through the similar struggles as me and noticing the same oddities.
What are the things which inspire and influence your work and what’s the story behind Instagram page “Like a Belgian”?
Covid also took its toll on it. Throughout the lockdown, I was taking very early morning walks and that was a time of reflection and appreciation of what was around me – the houses, the windows, the ducks around the city – the inspiration came a lot from here. And then all the time that we had with nothing to do outside and not being able to meet our friends and socialize, allowed me to invest all my time and energy to draw every day in my free time.
Once I started to draw, it was instinctive to post it and share it online, since it was the only way of interacting with people and understanding if I was the only one noticing all of these things. I have to say that I am most pleased with all the messages that I have received from Belgians! In several cases, people are thanking me to help them look at their country through “my lenses” and realising all the good things that you have here. I couldn’t be happier.
Your perfect day in Brussels?
I keep coming back because I have the feeling that the capital has several layers, and for a long time I only had the “tourist goggles”. My perfect day would now start at the Bozar or the Museum of Fine Arts, then I would have some mussels and frietjes in the city center and ice cream at the Place Sainte-Catherine (I keep going to Gaston!). At the end of the day, I would pass by the kiosks in de Parc de Bruxelles and I would end my day at an international restaurant somewhere in Ixelles (Portuguese and Brazilian restaurants have my heart there). I would like to know where to go out after but Covid hasn’t allowed me to discover that yet!
Find our more inspirations from Diana by following her Instagram page.