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Mattituck native Lily Padula’s latest editorial illustration published in The New York Times ran in the Feb. 15 edition.

Here’s how it works, because any reader of a newspaper or news website that utilizes illustrations to help tell a story — as opposed to photos — might be curious.

Typically, an editor or art director contacts an artist. The artist, if agreeable, then receives the story or column to review. After reading that, the artist then comes up with some concepts and sketches based on the written words.

The editor or art director chooses one concept, and the artist gets to work.

In just a few days, the art is submitted, and sometimes, resubmitted after some requested changes.

Then the piece of art and the story are sent to the printer together.

That’s all according to Lily Padula, a Brooklyn editorial illustrator and 2009 graduate of Mattituck High School who gave us a peak behind the curtain in an interview this week.

Her work has appeared five times in The New York Times since she graduated from New York City’s School of Visual Arts in 2013.

She got her foot in the door at the country’s most prestigious newspaper the old-fashioned way: She contacted some higher-ups through e-mail, and by sending postcards of her work.

“My senior year of graduation, I was trying to hustle and contact people a lot,” she said. “I had contacted [The NYT] a few times with examples.”

And they liked what they saw. Her first piece was published in the paper that June.

Padula’s latest NYT piece was published Feb. 15, for a column called “Surviving the Perils of the Quest for a Higher Yield.” (It’s worth noting that financial columns are often paired with illustrations in newspapers, lest these pages get filled each day with stock art of piggy banks, dollar signs and stacks of cash.) Padula was sent the piece by Paul J. Lim, a financial writer and author, about the pitfalls that accompany exotic investments that lure people with hopes of high returns.

She pitched a few sketches, and one was chosen for her to finish.

“A lot of the ideas I came up with were basically people struggling through some sort of physical element, or hindrance, toward some kind of pile of treasure,” she said. “I felt like drawing piles of money is kind of an illustration cliche. I tried to go with a pirate-like pile of treasure, with jewels and gold. The article also mentioned that a lot of people who are struggling with this issue are people who have investments in other countries, like exotic countries.

“So I thought a tropical island thing might be cool.”

Padula has had five works published in The New York Times, along with pieces published in The Boston Globe (see here) and The Globe and Mail of Toronto (see here).

Lily Padula. (Credit: Courtesy photo)
Lily Padula. (Credit: Courtesy photo)

She also animates many of her works, which are mostly created using a combination of digital tools and real ink.

Visit to see more of her work.