Transforming Reality into
Magical Art Pieces

Alfa Tate-O'Neill is a Washington, D.C.-based artist creating custom art pieces infused with magical realism. Utilizing a combination of acrylic paint, photography, rhinestones, and jewelry on canvas, Alfa captures decisive moments and memories of family, friends, pets, and nature. She transforms reality into magic, making each piece vibrantly alive. Alfa invites viewers to dive into the entire world of each creation. Her pieces offer intimacy and humor, telling stories through the lens of her own experiences and imagination.

Alfa is a veteran of the entertainment industry. She spent 35+ years marketing notable films, including “The Godfather,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Spider-Man,” “Twilight, and “Hunger Games.” Working her way up through the ranks in the entertainment industry fulfilled a lifelong dream. Distilling a movie, which offers a broad array of emotions and experiences, into an iconic visual or tagline to reach millions of potential viewers, was Alfa’s stock-in-trade. As her career flourished, Alfa longed for more direct involvement with the storytelling and visualization process. During COVID, she started creating custom portraits and paintings for family and friends remotely. Through art, she was able to do something she loved and elevate the spirit of others. Word-of-mouth grew her passion into a business. She realized how much she loved finding a decisive moment where her client felt true joy. She wanted her clients to re-experience that joy effortlessly with a piece of custom art on the wall. Through Alfa’s distinctive style, she transformed favorite photos into fine art.

In 2020, Alfa and Marco, her beloved Burger Blanc Swiss Shepherd, sold their Los Angeles home and drove cross-country to start a new phase of life in the Washington DC area, close to family and friends on the East Coast. Alfa and Marco navigated through unseasonably mercurial March weather in Texas and Louisiana and the specter of COVID. The road trip became a creative springboard. Alfa realized that she enjoyed traversing the nooks and crannies of the American landscape with Marco even more than her epic cross-country trip in the 1980s on a motorcycle. Marco managed to attract fans wherever they went. He developed a robust online following from posts on his Instagram account @askmarcothedog which depicted scenes from their journey. The trip inspired Alfa to create her logo for Alfa Design LLC, which is a tongue-in-cheek rendering of Marco, the Lexus, and herself, packed up and ready to go.

Alfa was born in Zurich, Switzerland. Her family came to the United States when her father was recruited by NASA to help put a man on the moon. Both her parents were multilingual, but her family spoke English at home to facilitate the assimilation process. Alfa grew up in leafy suburbs around New York City and Washington, D.C. Holidays were reserved for visiting family and friends in Europe. Early influences include the 1960s American cultural landscape impacted by the space race, civil rights, women’s rights, the Vietnam War, Andy Warhol, and British rock music. Alfa found herself juxtaposing the roil of life in the United States with regular doses of vivid European trips abroad to process the world as she knew it. Alfa noticed how quickly American cultural trends impacted Europe, and she was amused by how much American pop culture influenced her cousins in Switzerland.

Alfa’s obsession with the visual arts started to take shape in high school, along with her understanding of the world. Alfa’s springboard into adult life began in coastal Connecticut – where a hint of class floated through the air like a subtle sea breeze. Alfa’s first exhibit during high school took place at a local summertime art festival, where her batiks and paintings sold out. Her early work focused on popular culture, celebrities, and news. Visually, her work at the time could be described as inspired by rock album covers, movie posters, and Andy Warhol. She loved to explore the convergence of the old and the new aesthetically and intellectually. The cultural landscape offered an explosion of color and ideas, which led her to wonder about which factors mattered most. Politics, money, technology, spirituality? How are these elements intertwined? It’s notable to say that there has always been a fun factor in Alfa’s art that carries through today. She took her intellectual pursuits seriously. However, she usually opted for humor over drama when she had a creative choice.

When Alfa learned about the American Studies major at her alma mater, Barnard College (part of Columbia University in New York City), it seemed like a no-brainer for her. The major was designed to enable the student to gain insight into American culture from multiple vantage points: history, economics, politics, art, music, science, drugs, spirituality, etc. Growing up in an immigrant home, Alfa loved examining the uniqueness of American culture in a scholastic setting. What did it feel like to be an American? What was it supposed to feel like? How do free will, free market economics, and freedom of speech impact the reality of the American Dream? Through her studies, she explored the correlation between art imitating life and vice versa. At times, the correlation between life and art could be quite disturbing. The 1970s/80s cultural scene, marked by the end of the Cold War, saw the explosion of American entertainment on a worldwide basis and the rapid deployment of technology, including the advent of cable television. Alfa was fascinated by the impact of these changes, and she decided to forge a career for herself that combined art and science. Learning how to interpret and express the American zeitgeist became the foundation for Alfa’s career in marketing.

During the many years of marketing movies, Alfa walked the fine line of how best to align a movie with the zeitgeist of the population. It was clear that her life had prepared her for her career. She thrived for many years and won awards for her work. COVID arrived. It became a time of fear, change, and reflection for many. Alfa was concerned about the discernible anxiety that she and Marco felt from encounters they had on their cross-country trip. Once they got to Washington, DC, she saw an opportunity to express joy through her work. Alfa and Marco painted people and places that put her in touch with her joy. Joy seemed to spread, and clients seemed to love what Alfa created for them. Currently, Alfa’s work is designed to capture and celebrate our spirituality, our humanity, and our joy with some humor, if at all possible.

A painting of the universe with stars and galaxies.
A painting of a tree with pink flowers.