Alelli Tanghal, Art Director & Illustrator, Doubleday & Cartwright
What do you do for work?
Art direction, illustration, and design for Doubleday & Cartwright.
When and how did you discover you were into art? And then into illustration?
I’ve always loved books. Growing up, I used to write my own stories and draw pictures for them. My dad was a professional comic book artist, and he thought my stories were funny. He even remade a story that I wrote into a comic strip. Seeing what could become of my work really encouraged me to write and draw. Was it fostered as you grew up? As a child, yes. But when it came time to choose a career path, not so much. I was encouraged to go to nursing school, and I actually did that for a bit. I knew it wasn’t for me, so I took drawing classes on the side and secretly switched my major. It wasn’t until I earned a scholarship for art school in the city that I fessed up to making the switch. After that, my family had a little more faith that I could pursue a creative career. To this day, I think they’re glad that I ignored the safe path and owned my decision.
How would you describe your aesthetic and/or style?
Right now, it’s in a bit of an experimental stage. I swore off freelance jobs for a bit so that I could use that creative space to figure out my own personal work. I’d say a lot of the inspiration is drawn from my day-to-day, like a form of note-taking. Sometimes the feminine forms or expressions that come out of my drawing feel like an alter ego.
How do you differentiate yourself especially in a place like New York, like Brooklyn, in a city with so many agencies and so many art-/creative-/design-focused people?
My taste and the decisions that I make are probably what make me different, but I believe this applies to all creatives. Our taste writes the tone for the work we produce. Usually mine involves some aspect of humor, at least that’s the type of work that I’m drawn to. I also think that we curate our own creative circles, and that can lead to some unique results.
What would “making it” or even contentment look like for you?
Having a unique body of work that I can call my own and happily obsess with throughout my old age, and also working for no- body.
What does work-life balance look like for you? How do you achieve or foster it? Or does New York mean you just work hard until you move somewhere else, and now is the time to hustle?
For a long time, that work-life balance didn’t exist for me. I think you sort of have to hus- tle to get here and also to stay here. I’ve al- ways had multiple jobs to get by, but now I’m lucky that the job I have is supportive of my creative pursuits outside of the 9-to-5. It also allows me to have a personal life.
Where are you from? Where is home?
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I now live in Brooklyn.
What brought you to Brooklyn?
I was working in the city while going to school. After a big break up, I ended up on my brother’s couch in Brooklyn for about a month until I could get a place on my own. I’ve been here ever since.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you?
My cousin taught me to be the first one to make fun of myself. We grew up in a family where everyone is constantly crack- ing jokes. Owning your own flaws is like a survival skill.
Have you seen any examples of women in leadership that you’ve admired?
The Wimmen’s Comix Collective has been a major inspiration for me. They led the scene for underground comics in the ’70s and bent a lot of rules for what female artwork and writing can look like. They told stories that were not easy to tell.
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