When Laura Alejo first moved to Greenpoint, over a decade ago, she thought she had landed at the end of the world. “It seemed so far from everything!,” the Barcelona native explains.
It’s funny how things change. After purchasing a motorcycle to get around, Alejo settled into her new neighborhood. Now, she not only lives in the area, but works here too, from a studio in the Pencil Factory.
Alejo came to Brooklyn from Barcelona, Spain for a job at an animation studio in Dumbo. Several years later, she set out on her own to pursue a freelance career. Since then, her business has taken off, and chances are you’ve seen her work around town, either on the Subway, at the Nike store or at Brookfield Place. If you’ve never noticed her recognizable drawings outside, there’s a high probability you’ve seen some on the screen of your computer, tablet or phone. Alejo has worked with big-name brands like Facebook, Google and Oscar Health as well as nonprofits such as PBS and Zone 126. Her abilities span genres, from illustration and animation to storyboarding, graphic design and creative direction.
“I am always looking to tell a story,” explains Alejo. Much of her work involves helping her clients convey narratives through art. As an animator, she is familiar with storyboarding and sequencing her imagery, a process that inspires her work on the whole. While her approach is influenced by a number of factors, Alejo is “obsessed” with graphic novels, and finds inspiration in their detailed drawings and ordered format.
“My creative process involves a lot of sketches and writing,” she says. “I find ideas and process these thoughts with notes, diagrams and vignettes.”
When asked if she has ever seen one of her illustrations around the city, Alejo laughs. She has, she says, and is proud to be part of the urban landscape. “But that’s all commercial work,” she explains.
“I would be happier if one day I had the guts – or the invitation – to paint a mural.” While free time is limited for this working mom, Alejo still manages to pursue her own projects between work obligations and raising 6-year-old twins with her partner, Marcus. She has created animations about life as a mother, worked on a web comic called “C is for Cucaracha,” and explored ceramics after discovering Choplet’s shared studio space.
“New York is a very hard city overall and having kids is a crazy challenge,” reflects Alejo. “So much is expected from us as professionals and mothers and fit, creative individuals. There is not enough time for everything!”
Still, she has found a way to make it all work, and is grateful for the close-knit feel of the Greenpoint neighborhood. “Friends that became family…I feel very fortunate for that.”