Influential Artist Of The Kustom Kulture Sonny DePalma Left Us

depalma1depalma2depalma3It is with sadness that I report the passing yesterday of Sonny DePalma, one the most influential and inspiring artists of our generation. Sonny’s work, a combination of airbrush and paintbrush resulting in murals and graphics with a unique, crisp and clear 3-D style, is adorning many of the most acclaimed motorcycles and cars of our Kustom Kulture.

Sonny “Tha Doc” DePalma was originally from New York. As far as he could remember, he loved to draw. In the late 60s, his older brother brought home a Ed Roth catalog with Ed “Big Daddy” Roth designs in it. One look and he was hooked for life. One day, he told me “I would sit around the kitchen table drawing hot rods and monsters with bloodshot eyes, shifting gears through the roof of a wild looking hot rod. For me it was the coolest thing ever…” In the early 80’s, during a car show, he had a chance encounter with “Big Daddy” to whom he showed a small album of his first drawings. Of course, he was encouraged to pursue an artist career.

30 years ago, self-taught, never attending any art school, he moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and rich of the inspiration of those he admired the most (Ed Roth, Ed Newton and Robert Williams) he developed his own style as much for airbrush than for pinstriping, rapidly establishing his name at the top of the best in the custom paint field. During all these years he never stopped producing Krazy Art for the worldwide who’s who of the custom industry and inspired many others to dip the brush.

Without him, our world will be less colorful. I guess Sonny DePalma and Ed Roth met again in heaven and together will be painting the Rat Fink on everything they can put their hands on. My condolences to his family and all his friends.

13 Responses to “Influential Artist Of The Kustom Kulture Sonny DePalma Left Us”

  1. 1 Lynn Nov 22nd, 2013 at 9:53 am

    So sorry to hear of his passing.He was an amazing artist.I am so thankful i got to meet Sonny and his brother Mike at the Rats Hole Bike Show 2 years ago.Was also fortunate to get a shirt and a print from him a few months ago.We had been following him on Facebook to see what new piece of art he came up with next.I will miss seeing him on there and talking to him.My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.Rest in peace my friend.

  2. 2 Shifter Nov 22nd, 2013 at 10:11 am

    RIP Sonny.

  3. 3 Jack deagazio Nov 22nd, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Rip my friend, every time I go into als cycle in Rome new York I see the wall that you painted that beautiful mural that you did almost 40 years ago. You were truly a talented artist and I will miss you

  4. 4 Josh Parker Nov 22nd, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Nice tribute to a great painter.

  5. 5 Nov 22nd, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    RIP Sonny, you were indeed one of a kind and you will be missed.

    Over & Out,


  6. 6 Rodent Nov 22nd, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Master Artist RIP

  7. 7 Nov 23rd, 2013 at 7:14 am

    R.I.P My Friend See Ya On The Other Side

  8. 8 Stu Fischer Nov 23rd, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I am proud to have spent time with sonny
    During the bike building days with Jerry
    And at many car and bike events. One thing
    For sure I am honored to own the MAD RAT
    Bike that Jerry Graves built and sonny
    For his 50 birthday surprised everybody
    And rapped the entire bike in the 50’s
    Theme With is a unbelievable piece of art.
    I’m sure Sonny and Jerry are both looking
    Down on all
    Rest in peace

  9. 9 Mary Rose Fisher/Pawlikowski & Jeni Fisher/Dygert Nov 24th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Pam and Mike at this difficult time. RIP Sonny

  10. 10 Nov 24th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    R.I.P. One great artist

  11. 11 Nov 25th, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Travel in color !

  12. 12 Nov 26th, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Shocked to here this. Great guy and a Amazing artist. Prayers to the family.

  13. 13 Paul & Cindy panella Dec 4th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Pam so sorry to hear that sonny passed seems like yesterday that you guys gave Paulie his first stuffed animal he just passed it on to his son.I still have the mural of my car he did for me,you guys were on your way out of NY headed for Florida. He signed it Sonny 85 “bye”.Lots of old memories!!!!

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