Mona Palmer

Lena Shkoda
Andy Polanco
Jo Rosenthal

There are very few people in New York as fabulous, genuine and talented as Mona Palmer. Most known for her stunning style and her acrylic mirrors, she’s been keeping the city unique for almost ten years. That’s more than most people can say. Originally from California, New York was a flame she couldn’t help but be drawn to. After making the move, years later she’s established herself as one of the most fun artists currently on the scene. When she’s not designing mirrors, she’s hanging with friends, mastering the art of cooking and secretly maintaining her fluency in French. Is there anything she can’t do? 

We got the privilege to photograph Mona and ask her what’s been on her mind from her art practice to what exactly the NY art scene is to what she’s hopeful about for the future. Creatively and spiritually, Mona is definitely the girl you want to be best friends with.

Talk to us a little bit about your art practice…
MP: The mirrors were born out of an idea for a personal interior design project and kind of morphed into this larger entity once I made the move to New York. For me they’ve mostly functioned as design objects but I like that they collapse the digital and physical (all the designs are made on my computer), viewer and viewed object, art object and design object. I wouldn’t limit my art practice to just the mirrors though. Over the past few months it’s become much more multi-faceted. I do graphic design and illustration. Food has also become an enormous creative outlet for me. I’m trying to become a real Renaissance woman haha.
What are some artists and movies etc that inspire your work?
MP: I studied art history in college and my mirrors based on paintings by Botticelli, Ingres, and other artists are an obvious testament to that. I’m inspired by more everyday objects and icons, the nail art hand with rose for example. Film is an enormous source of inspiration for me. I watch a LOT of movies. I’ll even watch “bad” ones for the incredible aesthetic moments they present. One of my favorite genres is the Hollywood musical. They mostly have thin plots but the costumes, staging and set design are really mind-blowing. I like the idea of creating entirely immersive aesthetic environments and old musicals very much do that. 
How would you describe the New York art scene?
MP: I’ve found it very exciting and inspiring to witness the creative people around me mobilizing their talents for the good of society, especially as it pertains to the Black Lives Matter movement. New York artists are directly investing in their local communities through their work and through political actions. The combo of the nation- and world-wide scale of today’s social movements and the fact that we are all mostly living on the internet in the Covid era also makes me feel like the concept of hyper-localized art scenes is for the time being semi-obsolete. At least for now, it feels like politics and therefore art do very much operate on a local level but have also expanded into a much larger global community. The world is our scene!

Commission NYC dress & Front General Store shoes

Commission top and jeans & Araks bra

What are you hopeful for in the future?
MP: I’m hopeful for real, radical political and social change. I’m very heartened by the fact that underrepresented voices are finally being given the platforms they deserve and that those of us who are more privileged are rallying together to lift them up. It’s an uphill battle for sure, but I’m still feeling very inspired. I’m also hopeful for becoming a bigger and better version of myself. Ideologically, politically, creatively, spiritually.
How did you occupy your time during the quarantine?
MP: I fell into a complete spiral of domesticity. Lots of interior design projects and a few failed gardening experiments. But I really went, and continue to go, very hard on the cooking tip. It started with the prerequisite learning to bake bread and progressed into me making super elaborate multi-course meals for one. It’s kind of culminated in me teaching myself how to cook Korean food. The past few months have obviously been a deeply traumatic time for a lot of us and I think cooking has become my way of self-soothing as well as a really dedicated exercise in creativity.
Who are some artists you’d like to shout out?
MP: I’m lucky to know a lot of exceptionally gifted people. My friends Paige Hanserd @mustarrrrd & Anamaria Morris @awwnamaria are respectively super talented graphic designers. Camille Doyle @camille.albertine is a beautiful accessories designer, her purses are *chef’s kiss*. Juan Diez @nevertrustacop is a wonderful photographer and my friend Hannah Jewett @hannahjewett._ makes beautiful jewelry!
What’s the best advice you have for someone who wants to be you and do what you do?
MP: Well first of all I don’t think anyone should want to be me, we should all strive to be ourselves! But, looking back on the arc of my creative journey, I think a key step has been learning to believe in myself. Fear of failure held me back for a long time. Listening and accepting the love and support of my friends is also crucial for those moments when I’m not quite feeling strong enough to stand up for myself. I’m still learning to be kind to myself, but muting the voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough and just putting yourself out there even when you’re afraid to — I think that’s the best piece of advice I could give

Commission NYC shirt, vest, leggings & Repetto Paris shoes

Ganni dress & James Veloria shoes

Photography: Lena Shkoda
Stylist: Andy Polanco
Production: David Thompson