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Maritime Forum
News article26 March 2024Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

EU4Algae – Interview Spotlight: Meet artist & illustrator Xulia Pisón who created comic books to spread knowledge & awareness of algae 

We had the opportunity to talk with Xulia Pisón about her involvement in the EU-funded ENHANCEMICROALGAE project and get insights into her professional journey. 

In the scope of the dissemination and communication efforts of the EU-funded ENHANCEMICROALGAE project, we spoke with artist and illustrator Xulia Pisón regarding the comic books she created on the adventures of five microalgal characters, addressed to children, and aimed at spreading knowledge on the biology and ecological roles of different types of microalgae. Keep reading to learn what she had to say as she also provided us with unique insights into her professional journey, and her role within the ENHANCEMICROALGAE project and shared with us her predictions about the future of the algae industry. 


1. Can you share a bit about your artistic background and what inspired you to create comics focusing on the algae sector meant for a broader audience? 

At first, I took a degree in Nursing and worked as a nurse for 6 years. But my calling was another: to be a cartoonist and storyteller. In 2014, I left my job at the hospital where I was working to study Illustration to make comics. For a while, I thought that the time spent in the health field had been a waste of time, however, when I joined the ENHANCEMICROALGAE project, I was grateful to have had that previous scientific training that allowed me to understand and better showcase all that scientific information as accurately as possible. 


2. As a woman entrepreneur and artist working on a scientific project, how do you navigate the intersection of creativity and research & what challenges do you face in balancing artistic expression with scientific accuracy? How do you address them? 

It is probably due to my scientific background that helps me tell my stories, within the fantasy realm, as true to scientific reality as possible. During the process of creating the comic books and the characters, I am in contact with the real experts: the scientists at the ENHANCEMICROALGAE project. They give me the necessary feedback to disseminate science accurately. I always keep in mind that sometimes science can be difficult to absorb for some readers. That’s why I create my stories while remembering the words attributed to Mark Twain, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story". I believe it is the story that connects with the readers, and in which case honouring that connection allows us to pass on valuable scientific information. 


3. Tell us about your involvement in the framework of the Interreg ENHANCEMICROALGAE project. How did it start, and what sparked your interest and resonated with you as an artist? 

This project came to me through one of its scientists, Jose Manuel López Vilariño (Glecex). He proposed the idea of creating a comic with microalgae as the main characters to disseminate microalgae knowledge among a younger audience. I immediately thought that creating characters from small unicellular plants was almost impossible, but then memories of a childhood cartoon came back to me, the French series "Il était une fois... la Vie". I felt inspired to create something that would reach the youngest audience in the same way. “Microalgae. The Hidden World” came out a year later. 


4. From your perspective, how can artistic representations, such as comics, aid in bridging the gap between scientific research and public awareness, particularly in the algae industry? 

Comics are a rich art form, but also a powerful communication tool. The different levels of readability offered by text and images make it possible to reach a wide range of ages. The microalgae comic has fans of many ages, from young adults about to start university, to some who are only starting to read. Science dissemination has a great ally in comics and although their use is not that widespread, I hope in the future more research projects will turn to artists like me to transmit complex scientific knowledge to the general public and future scientists. 


5. Considering the goals of the Interreg ENHANCEMICROALGAE project, how do you see the initiative positively impacting the competitiveness of microalgal-based industries and enhancing the visibility and marketability of microalgal products across various industries? 

The education of new generations in science, caring for the planet and our health is of vital importance to bring about change in the world. The Microalgae trilogy has worked very well locally, and I hope it continues to reach out to boys and girls in other places. There is a lot to be told about the fascinating world of microalgae. The more younger people know about microalgae, the more they will be interested in learning about how to use them to save the world. 


6. As an artist contributing to the Interreg ENHANCEMICROALGAE project, how do you envision the future impact of your work in shaping public perception and understanding of algae? Are there specific goals or directions you hope to see your artistic contributions take in the continued development of the project and the algae industry as a whole? 

The main story of Microalgae has come to an end along with the ENHANCEMICROALGAE project. I like to think that with its third issue “Microalgae. Beyond Earth" a cycle has been closed. We started from humble beginnings, creating a simple story with characters based on scientific realities, went out into the dangerous world of "Microalgae. Sea of Ardora" and finished the story by travelling to Mars to the realm of hypotheses about a distant future. The Microalgae trilogy has worked very well locally, and I hope it continues to reach out to boys and girls in other places. And, of course, I hope to be able to continue telling the stories of these characters – perhaps through spin-offs in which we can go deeper into each character and discover new species. There is still a lot to be told about the fascinating world of microalgae. 


Discover the Microalgae trilogy! 

Created by Xulia Pisón, the first chapter is available in five languages (Galician, Spanish, English, French and Portuguese) and the second and third chapters in three languages (English, Spanish and Galician). 

The first and third chapters are available online in PDF format. To purchase online the illustrated books (English, Spanish and Galician) make sure to access the author Xulia Pisón website.  



Additional information    

Join the #EU4Algae conversation and don’t forget to keep an eye on the EU4Algae Forum to stay updated and learn more about the ongoing activities, initiatives and updates on the development of the EU4Algae Forum online.      

To contact us, please use the following email: contactateu4algae [dot] eu (contact[at]eu4algae[dot]eu).  



Publication date
26 March 2024
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries