Ali is the multidisciplinary artist, mental health advocate, entrepreneur, writer and creative activist behind Ali Makes Things.
Hey I'm Ali. I think this is the part where I humble-brag any kind of accolade I've ever had in third person, right?? I find it challenging to write that way, so please pardon the departure.
Here's what I believe:
Making things with honesty and purpose can be magic.
I use the spectrum of my life experiences- from messy to magical- as a catalyst for my work. Using lettering and social media as mediums, I hope to jumpstart real and honest conversations around complex topics like mental health, therapy, social justice, and what it looks like to find yourself in the messy middle of life.
I've never really fit the mold of the industries I've worked within: I'm an artist with a degree "emphasizing in" Criminal Justice and Psychology. I got divorced around the same time I worked at a church, I deal with pretty debilitating depression and anxiety and yet I get to work with leaders and change-makers in mental/emotional health and wellness. Lastly, I cried when one of my first big clients told me my "letters look drunk" while working in a field that has long valued tradition and technique. I've always had a hard time pinning down what it is I do-- the truth is, I wear a lot of hats and I like it that way.
Despite my impressive resume of A Lot of Things That Don't Necessarily Make Sense, I've had the opportunity to work with some incredible people who are doing things I admire and believe are changing our world.
I mostly make things with people who care about other people. People who care in tangible ways about: mental and emotional health, marriage and relationship health, suicide prevention and awareness, foster care advocacy, vocational training for women and other marginalized groups, access to clean water, eradication of hunger and human trafficking, and leadership and entrepreneurial development stateside and abroad.
I've had some incredible project opportunities-- working with Paper Rebel and American Greetings let me purchase some cards I've made at Target, my family sent holiday cards with (my) stock lettering through Tiny Prints and Shutterfly, I've worn clothing with my lettering on it thanks to NBA player Kyle Korver, To Write Love on Her Arms, and numerous bands, churches and organizations. My murals have been seen on the walls of places like Ace Rivington, Impact Hub, and The Liddy- a women's vocational training center in Rwanda. My letters have been made very BIG at music festivals like Bonnaroo thanks to Kohler, made into temporary tattoos and tshirts thanks to Warner Brothers, accompanied some of the first records sent out with Vinyl Me, Please, and I've even been asked to partner with the Pope.
At the end of the day, I love what I do. It's not always easy, but I'll never get over that I get to jump in and be a small part of some really incredible projects with people who are changing our world.
Oh, and as for the other stuff? I grew up in a tiny, one-stoplight town in the foothills of Northern California, I've lived all over the US and mainly work nomadically, most recently calling Atlanta, Santa Barbara, and Kigali, Rwanda "home."
And for the record, the accolades I'm most proud of include:
- winning the DARE essay contest in 6th grade, where I called "truly living" my anti-drug
- going to the county spelling bee 2nd-8th grade
- being a GATE kid
- convincing my high school teachers to let me take summer school at the local continuation school and then convincing those teachers that I could just send in my assignments-- literally took a package of completed homework to the local post office mid-week at high school church camp.
- holding an "abstinence conference" for my senior project and making all my friends pledge their purity to me... or, ahem, God.
- getting voted "most likely to start a trend" while wearing an A&F denim skirt and tall uggs. with a ripped up "pizza my heart" shirt and enough scarf for five people.
I'm not sure if that's what you were looking for here, but it's my website, so... you're welcome.
If you still want to hear me speak or see more of my letters, keep in touch via my Instagram: @alimakesthings
Hear more of my story: via Good Good Good