Abraham Lincoln statue on Carthage College?s campus.
Gloria Ellen Maru

Elle Maru

Class Year


Current home

Racine, Wis.


Studio Art

Current Position

Business Owner, Children’s Book Author/Illustrator at Elle Maru Illustration, LLC in Racine WI

Elle Maru ’20 is a Carthage graduate who majored in studio art and minored in Japanese and Asian studies.

During her time at Carthage, Elle had many great relationships with professors that helped guide her creative career. Elle is now a business owner, children’s book author, and illustrator at Elle Maru Illustration, LLC in Racine Wisconsin. 

Ell has created several illustrations for Carthage College, including the illustration used on the 2022 Homecoming and Family Weekend postcard. 

A drawing of the Carthage campus during Homecoming & Family Weekend.

Visit her website to learn more about her and her work

“The ability to share my thoughts through my love of illustration and storytelling is what inspires me to continue this path.”

Elle Maru, ’20

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I enjoy living a life guided by creativity, so I was drawn to the necessary freedom and flexibility that being a business owner can grant an artist. The ability to share my thoughts through my love of illustration and storytelling is what inspires me to continue this path.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“I decided to open an LLC under my illustration business when I began selling my first children’s book ‘Comfy,’ through my artist website. ‘Comfy’ was my graduation thesis project at Carthage College. I was given excellent guidance, educational direction, and connections that led me on the path of creating children’s books. My artist website that I have been using as the platform for my business was also created while studying at Carthage. The studio art major thoroughly prepares a contemporary working artist with all the tools necessary.”

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

“When I chose to follow the path of creative entrepreneurship, I was also in the middle of moving my fiance and me across state lines into our first home together. I used many of the integral time management, communication, and creative problem-solving skills gained at Carthage to simultaneously participate in entrepreneurial classes with The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation and The Kenosha Creative Space.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“I originally wanted to pursue Japanese language, and Carthage’s impressive Japanese program is what drew me to the institution. However, after deciding to pursue art instead, I was incredibly happy to join the Carthage Art Department, where the instructors shine through on their personal approaches to the working art world.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“So many of the opportunities that shaped who I am as an artist and person were extensions of my education at Carthage. While studying at Carthage I was able to participate in a working internship program teaching art at a local community center, as well as work with the Racine Young Artist Program in the summer of 2019. I was also able to connect with a local author as an independent study during my senior year at Carthage. I illustrated the author’s original children’s book as an opportunity for an official commercial illustration working experience. During my senior J-Term, I was able to attend a creative visual and musical arts trip to Costa Rica and Panama with wonderful professors who helped guide me on my path as an artist.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“My relationships with multiple professors in the Art Department at Carthage helped guide me on my career path. Professors Ryan Peter Miller, Diane Levesque, Lisa Bigalke, and Jojin Van Winkle inspired me to stay on the path of art through their examples and teachings.

“As Carthage is a liberal arts school, I also developed integral relationships with Asian studies professors Stephen Udry and Yan Wang, as well as many of the Japanese Instructors teaching at Carthage through the TLE program.”

What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?

“My goal as a children’s book illustrator is to spread the importance of empathy, community, and self-resilience through my work. I feel that my efforts as a small business owner and artist display my commitment to Carthage’s mission.”

What's your favorite Carthage memory?

“The moments spent with my Carthage community — both fellow students and my faculty — will always stay with me. The support of my Carthage community drives me forward, even today.”

Tips for current Carthage students?

“As long as you try your best each day at a time and give yourself grace, you can achieve amazing things.”

Are you a Carthage graduate who is excelling in your field?