Marella Moon Albanese is a Western New York born illustrator currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Their style is reminiscent of editorial illustrations of the fifties and sixties but with a modern edge; drawing inspirations from the counter-cultures that arose around reggae, soul, punk, and androgyny. Above all, their work is people focused, using color and line work to express the importance of each character in different scenarios and settings. Throughout their award winning career, they have been commissioned and published by international clients across the illustration fields of editorial, advertising, product design, and more. Marella is originally from a small farming town in rural Western New York and moved to Brooklyn to pursue their art career after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BFA in illustration.
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- Society of Illustrators 62
- Packaging Strategies Magazine
- American Illustration Archive Collection 39, 40
- 3×3 No. 17 Merit Award
- Creative Quarterly 60
- AOI World Illustration Awards 2021
Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an illustrator? What were your earliest impressions?
I didn’t know illustration was a thing until I was around 15 or 16, when I saw it in an artist I followed on Tumblr’s bio; It said “studying illustration” and up to that point I’d only known of fine art and graphic design as arts you could study. Needless to say, I threw myself into illustration because it’s all I’ve ever wanted.
Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
I really liked mythology like unicorns, dragons, and fairies as a kid, and considering that it’s pretty much all illustrated I’d say it had a big influence over my work. I’ve also been drawn to album art growing up; I framed the Scorpions album Blackout when I was like 12 because I thought it was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. My aunt Kasey was also a big help in pursuing art as well, so I’d like to give her a shout out.
Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
If we’re talking not technically very first artwork, when I was in around the 1st grade, I did this yellow plaid dog as a project and it got to be shown at a college or something. I think I was the only one in my class that got in. We had it framed and it’s still somewhere in my moms house. I think I’d consider that my first real art achievement that got me to pursue, much later, illustration.
Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I like to joke that it’s the only thing I’m good at.
Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
My biggest inspiration by far are the counter-cultures that emerged in the 60s and 70s around music like ska/reggae, soul, and punk. I get the impulse to create a lot of my work by attending live shows or dances catering to these subcultures.
Do you have a favourite artist? What is it about that artist’s work you like?
My favorite artist would have to be Ferenc Pinter. I would absolutely love to see the world through his eyes. The gracefulness in his painting technique contrasted with the sharpness of his shapes really is a huge influence on my own work. I’ve never seen a piece of his that hasn’t caught my eye.
If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I think if I were to go into anything else, it would have to be film, not saying film isn’t in art in and of itself. Film alone has had a great influence over my life and how I tend to view the world around me. What’s illustration but compressing a story into a single image?
If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I’d ask what story they see in it.
Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think in many aspects the average public doesn’t realize how much illustration is around us. It’s in so many things that it’s sort of bled into the everyday. Everyone should take a moment to look around your room, or the streets you live in and appreciate all the art that really is around you; and realize how much better it would be if there was even more.
Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
Art is an expression that has lived on longer than anything else; I mean, they just found a cave painting that’s an estimated 45,500+ years old, maybe not even made by modern humans. Even in our darkest moments, say medieval times, it was the monks trained in art that documented it all. We’re storytellers by heart and art is the ultimate expression of that.
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