Marella Moon Albanese is a Western New York born illustrator currently based in Rochester, 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.
New York Times, Hachette Book Group, NBC News, Shopify, Hollywood ReporterRead more
editorial, book illustration, personal, advertisingRead more
- Society of Illustrators 62
- AOI World Illustration Awards 2021
- Creative Quarterly 60
- 3×3 No. 17 Merit Award
- Packaging Strategies Magazine
- American Illustration Archive Collection 39, 40
- American Illustration Annual
Graduating from FIT in 2020, Anna Goodson taking me on 2021Read more
Marella Moon Albanese
How do you define your identity? Do you identify with (or advocate for) any marginalized communities?
I identify as non-binary. I was also raised quite poor so working class issues are very important to me
Where is home?
A small town in Western New York.
Describe your illustration style in one sentence
I think my style is a mix of modern and classic illustration.
What lights your soul on fire?
I think seeing a band I really like and dancing my little heart out
What themes do you enjoy exploring in your illustrations?
Humanity and what comes with it. I’m a really big fan of the idea that we all have flaws and distinct things we care about that make us up as individuals.
What techniques do you use?
In a lot of my work I use people I’ve sketched from life as my references. I draw a lot of people so I like to go back through my sketchbook and see if there are any “characters” I’m drawn to for an actual illustration piece.
How much of yourself and your own story can we see in your work?
I have a hard time doing any piece that doesn’t have even a little bit of myself and my story in it. I’m a bit of a narcissist when it comes to my work, as a lot of it is based in my life and things I care about.
Is there an unmistakable thread in your creative work?
I think so. I like to think it’s the humanity in my work.
What do you want to be known for?
I used to be very scared of not being remembered when I’m gone, but really I think I’d be okay if one of my pieces was even thought of as being someone’s favorite illustration in the future.
Which projects excite you most?
When the client picks my favorite sketch
What is your dream gig?
I think a Criterion movie cover or a Folio book
Where, when and how do you best create?
Just in my house with a good playlist on in the background
How has your style evolved since you started?
Quite a lot! When I first started I was hugely inspired by artists like Ralph Steadman and worked almost exclusively in ink, but after finding my niche I’d say my work is completely different.
What do you find most challenging in your practice or in the industry?
I think when working for a client, sometimes, you can get carried away with doing what you want and getting fed up when it’s not what the client wants. It’s also tough when a client wants changes late in the process.
How has being an illustrator changed your life?
Incredibly! I love bragging to my family that I can make a living doing what I enjoy after some of them told me it would be impossible.
Name a tool you can’t live without!
My dog. He keeps me company and helps me get up and walk around if I spend too much time working
Tell us about a project you worked on that was meaningful to you as an artist.
I do a lot of self portraits as a form of therapy. I think all of them are very meaningful to me. However, a project from a client that has been meaningful was probably one I did recently about gender affirming care in upstate New York, as it actually helped me find care I personally was looking for.
What influences or inspires your art?
More than anything, the subcultures that arose around reggae, soul, punk, and androgyny, as well as the art of the 50’s and 60’s.
What would you tell your younger self?
That I was right.
Why do you think art speaks louder than words?
You can tell a whole story in one illustration sometimes! There’s a reason so many people are “visual learners”.
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