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ART MAKES us think, even if its intellectual prodding is subliminal. Tony Palladino, who passed away two weeks ago at age 84, knew how to prod with typography as well as with other genres of graphic arts.
Tony wrote, “I was born in New York City’s East Harlem to Italian parents who convinced me that I was a gifted kid.” His parents spoke only Italian; Tony, only English; so he learned to communicate his feelings—and his wit—through drawings.
Palladino’s graphic arts were influenced by the Bauhaus movement, of rendering a lot with a little. This is exemplified by his logo for Conrail, the railroad operating in the U.S. Northeast from 1976 to 1999.
Likely better known by most of us are Palladino’s compelling graphics for the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Psycho. And therein lies a tale, in fact several of them.
When Simon & Schuster published Robert Bloch’s suspense novel Psycho in 1959, the company hired Palladino to illustrate the book’s cover. “How do you do a better image than the word itself?” asked Tony.
When Alfred Hitchcock bought the movie rights from author Bloch, he also arranged for Palladino to design posters and other advertising material for the 1960 film. The stark typography also appeared in the movie’s opening credits.
Palladino recalled that Hitchcock, “wanted the lettering to dominate the newspaper and poster advertising, with just a few photographs of the main actors.” Palladino earned $5000 for his efforts, only a little less than author Bloch received for the book’s film rights.
Palladino’s career included mentoring others; since 1958 he taught at New York City’s School of Visual Arts. Though 84, he was scheduled to teach a class this summer in graphic communications.
Today’s graphic arts genres depend a lot on digital hardware, but Palladino recognized the benefits of traditional techniques as well. According to his obituary in The New York Times, May 20, 2014, (http://goo.gl/t34HDg), he advised his students, “Please bring a tracing paper pad (9×12”) and a 1/8” black Sharpie marker to the first session.”
And, no doubt, bring a free-thinking imagination. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014