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Designer Nicole ParenteLaylah Ali
Artist Laylah Ali and graphic designer Nicole Parente work together in the designer’s home office in Cambridge, MA. The artist’s hand-drawn notes are transformed into precise digital illustrations otherwise impossible without a computer.More information and credits
Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Dowling. Camera & Sound: Ken Willinger and Bob Freeman. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Laylah Ali. Special Thanks: Nicole Parente.
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Laylah Ali creates her small, figurative, gouache paintings on paper with such precision that it takes her many months to complete a single work. She meticulously plots out every aspect of her work in advance, from subject matter to choice of color and the brushes that she will use. Her paintings resemble comic-book serials, but they also contain stylistic references to hieroglyphics and American folk-art traditions. Ali often achieves a high level of emotional tension in her work as a result of juxtaposing brightly colored scenes with dark, often violent subject matter that speaks of political resistance, social relationships, and betrayal. Although Ali’s interest in representations of socio-political issues and current events drives her work, her finished paintings rarely reveal specific references.
“What’s different about working with Laylah? She’s a perfectionist—I mean she needs to be. She knows exactly what she wants.”