I was born in New York City’s East Harlem to Italian parents who convinced me that I was a gifted kid.
I’ve worked at advertising agencies as a Creative Director, and independently for corporations using my ability to draw
and paint and think - selling my art too – to individuals and corporations.
I’ve consulted to ad agencies and have been teaching at the School of Visual Arts for about 30 years.
I’m in The Art Directors Hall of Fame, the Permanent Collection of various museums including MoMA.
I’m proud to be the recipient of the 1999 SVA Master Series Award and was then given two 1st prizes from the National
Publications Association for the show and the design of the invitation and poster for that show.
“I draw what is closest to my emotions, knowledge and visual experience. Enjoy yourself. If you don’t see it here,
it’s in your world.”
The Palate of Palladino
by George Lois
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT TONY?
By Joan Jedell
Art Direction Magazine
Picture a sun—filled hotel terrace by the beach. It’s early morning and only a handful of people are stirring. I glance
up and, from the corner of my eye, at the adjoining terrace, spy a hand, a pencil and a sketch pad. Overcome with
curiosity, I look over and discover that both hand and drawing belong to none other than Tony Palladino.
Tony is doing what he loves, sketching in the early morning hours. Today his creative energies have been channeled
into an idea for a new toy but it could just as easily have been a new beverage, a landscape, an ad campaign, or a
children’s book, because Tony Palladino lives art. There are no boundaries between his work and his life.
What there is is a never-ending need to communicate- fine art, advertising, it hardly matters. His successes as an artist
come from his skill as an observer, and a constant – automatic, even- urge to convey what he’s seen.
Growing up in East Harlem in the 1930’s and 40’s, Tony learned to sketch in order to communicate with his parents.
“They spoke Italian and I didn’t. We couldn’t communicate. Because I had to draw a horse to say horse, I learned to
draw a horse. And that’s what we do today in advertising. We make pictures to say something.”
That perspective, art as language, as opposed to art as style or aesthetic, remains a constant for him. “The humanity”
is the way he puts it. “The touching of the people” is the old-fashioned motivation in all his works. – and likewise, he
believes, the missing link in much current advertising, stylish thought it may be. “There’s a lot of sizzle. The audience of
the last 20 years has been educated with communication. They are so hip its unbelievable, but there’s a lack of making contact.”
What Tony sees as the wave of the future is direct mail and the internet precisely because of its potential to
communicate directly. He cares little for the old prejudices about the field, the idea that the work is somehow “less
important” for carrying an address. “I feel fine about doing any piece of communication whether it be an ad, a
promotion, a logo, whatever.” Getting the message across, letting the product be the boss, “putting the ego to the
product” these things matter more to Tony Palladino than what medium he uses.
To stretch the art—as-language analogy, it’s not whether your voice is deep or high, but what you have to say. And
to “speak” art, he feels, you’ve got to “read” it. Palladino firmly believes that talent, whether in painting or an ad
campaign is more than instinct, it’s the product of a solid art education (he’s been a teacher at the School of Visual
Arts for the past 25 years). “My sense today is that there is a little too much focus on the computer and not enough on
the history of art. You have to have an eclectic kind of thinking, one that enables you to do a job in many, many ways.
And to communicate in different styles, you have to understand different styles, from the caves of Spain to the present,
then use those as a vocabulary and pick out what’s correct. It might be a Motherwell or a Donatello, a Mondrian or a
Norman Rockwell. The computer is fine, but it’s just another pencil.”
Is there a secret to Palladino’s longevity in the business? Focus and clarity are two words Tony comes back to over and
over. “You have to stay on what you’re doing, set up your objective and get into it.” That’s more than just a phrase.
Tony talks about the solitary work involved in keeping the mind clear and light “so air can go through it; so ideas can
follow. You have to shrink yourself out before you can do a piece of work. You have to find a peaceful clearing – you
can move in with your own technology and your own ideas but that takes absolute clarity.” Tony is describing a very
powerful place, one familiar to many artists, but rarely articulated so vividly or so eloquently.
Fine art is no different. His career has spanned decades, from a 1967 group show at the Museum of Modern Art to the
permanent collections of the MoMA and the San Marino Museum of Art, and with solo exhibits at (among others) the
Litchfield Library, the Visual Arts Gallery in SoHo, the Gillian Gallery in East Hampton, and the Berni Gallery on Park
Avenue. And yet, you’d be hard pressed to assign him any personal “style”. As in his advertising and design work,
style is determined more by the nature of the subject and of the message to be relayed. The sources are as eclectic as life itself.