Artist in residence
Philadelphia-based illustrator David Palumbo talks cats, camera gear and costumes.
My studio setup occupies what would normally be the dining room portion of your typical South Philadelphia row home. It’s not a large space, though the high ceilings, massive mirror (came with the house, that’s how they do it in South Philly) and plenty of daylight make it feel expansive.
My previous studio area was the size of the rug pictured here, so I’m happy to be able to stretch my arms out. Speaking of mirrors, the small one in that closet door (left of the tall bookshelf) is very useful for quick mirror-checks on my paintings.
Everything that I need for an average day’s work is here (aside from my computer, which is in another room). Fresh brushes and tubes of paint are right next to my easel. Art books are all around, for inspiration and reference. Camera gear is sprawling out above the book shelf and boxes of props and costumes are in the closet behind my painting station. I tend to listen to music and watch movies while working, so the stereo is just two paces to the right.
I like to keep furniture simple. My easel is the same simple A-frame I’ve owned since college, slightly modified so it can travel in my car. My lights and work table are cheap hardware store purchases. I have a tripod for holding reference printouts.
Of course, the studio’s best features are the cats, who keep me company. Roy is the tuxedo, posing with such dignity in front, while Bones (orange) and Manos (black) plot mischief in the kitchen.
David is a Spectrum- and Chesley-awardwinning illustrator who’s known for genre work on book covers and gaming cards. His clients include The New Yorker and Scientific American. You can see more of David’s art by visiting www.dvpalumbo.com.
Photo gear is my big weakness. This is a mix of modern and vintage equipment, but almost all of it sees use. An original Sam Weber from his Lord of the Flies collection. This was the first sizable painting I ever bought and is still one of my favourites. Here’s my paint setup. The brushes are all Loew Cornell Golden Taklon and the palette is glass. I bought this shelf from a Home Depot for a workshop that was short of equipment, then replaced my old thrift-store night stand with it.
I get anxiety when multiple jobs are due and I can‘t decide which has highest priority. So I stack open jobs as Post-it notes next to my easel and move them up and down by due date, to stay on top of my work.