Tony Palladino, promotion for a packaging designer, 1957
After this year’s Command X at AIGA Pivot, one of the designers, Wendy Hu, sent me a thoughtful thank you note. I didn’t expect it, but I was touched to receive it. The note is still on my desk. It’s a lost art, but a handwritten note is a sign of respect. In my taboret at work, I have two other notes. I have a quickly scribbled note from Tibor Kalman congratulating me on a project. I also have a note from Tony Palladino, complimenting our first UCLA Extension poster. The note from Tony was, for me, the equivalent of an Academy Award. We were getting slammed left and right by the groovy designers as we weren’t layering images on images, mangling type, or making purposely oblique messages. The UCLA poster was a statement about our design philosophy, that old clarity, purity, and resonance. Tony’s note was an affirmation that we might be doing something worthwhile.
I’ve always been interested in inherently American works of art. Tony Palladino’s work is that. He was born in Manhattan in the 1930 and spent his youth in the vibrant and gritty world of New York during the depression. He may adopt some of the principals of Bauhaus Modernism, but it is filtered through a layer of American high energy and spontaneity. Like jazz, Tony’s work is rigidly crafted, but bursting with an energy that does not play politely. His solutions are brave and unapologetic. The SVA poster hand-drawn with markers is a hand-drawn poster made with markers. In the hands of a lesser talent, this would be a sketch, and the final poster would be a polite geometric set of gradations, dull and elegant.
The American identity is complex. It is a mix of Puritanism and extremes. It is pragmatic and didactic. And, it is about optimism. Tony’s humor is clear in all of his solutions. This levity, craft, vitality, and intelligence are a miraculous combination. Add in Tony’s poetic vision, and the results are rare and spectacular.
Tony Palladino, poster for SVA
Tony Palladino, poster for SVA, 1970s
Tony Palladino, poster for SVA, 1984
Tony Palladino, poster for SVA, 1959
Tony Palladino, poster, 1957
Tony Palladino, poster The Wedding Party, 1975
Tony Palladino, cover for Architectural & Engineering News, 1967
Tony Palladino, cover for Architectural & Engineering News, 1963
Tony Palladino, envelope, 1986
Tony Palladino, book cover, Far Out, 1961
Tony Palladino, poster, The Women's Strike for Peace