Maker Profile: Alli Arnold

st pete threads artist alli arnold

New York-born and bred, this illustrator fell in love with St. Pete and never looked back.

Alli Arnold has lent her intimate, whimsical line to work for Tiffany, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s – and now, St. Pete Threads. After a life in the Big Apple, she picked up stakes in 2011 and moved to Old Northeast, where she’s fully enjoying her bigger-than-a-shoebox home and biking to the beach – while continuing to work for her favorite clients back North.

Alli connected to St. Pete Threads through another one of our great local designers, Todd Bates. As an animal lover, she says she was excited to do something fun for a good cause – though there’s a tragic irony to the design.

“I must love cats from afar,” she wrote via email, “Due to allergies.”

But she is a huge dog lover, owner of a Morkie named Nino – who, she points out, is hypoallergenic. She’s also frequently dogsitting for friends, and keeps two gerbils, Cy and Chet, nearby while she works.
Before her design for us, Alli worked for publications like the New York Times and Boston Globe, designed greeting cards, and even has her own collection of scarves and prints []. It all started in a public library on Long Island, where a young Alli became fascinated by illustration. Even though a lot of her work depicts urban sophistication, there’s still a quality of childlike fantasy to it – she credits both Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey for inspiration.

Alli says her artistic agenda is pretty simple. “My ultimate goal as an illustrator is to make someone smile when they look at my work.”

She turned that goal into a career starting at age 17, when she joined the Parsons School of Design at the New School. From there, she amassed her impressive roster of regular clients, before deciding that she needed a change. She visited a favorite uncle in St. Pete – and fell in love so instantly that she had ditched her New York apartment within six weeks.

Luckily, most of her New York clients were happy to follow her to St. Pete (isn’t technology great?). But she’s also hooking into the local scene, such as with a recent solo show at Strands of Sunshine.
“I’ve been lucky enough to amass a wonderful crew of creative and eccentric people here in the Old Northeast,” she says, “and they inspire and encourage me all the time.”

She’s found St. Pete very cosmopolitan, and says that the city is on a great path to becoming a great city for the arts. There’s only one thing it’s truly missing, she says.

“I think the only thing that could make it better would be an enormous, charming, Florida-flavored Alli Arnold mural right downtown. Let’s make it happen!”