MUSCATINE, Iowa–With two creative parents and art supplies always within reach, Laura Palmer fell in love with drawing at a young age. Following her artistic interests through her years in school, she eventually studied art at the University of Iowa. In 2009, several years after her graduation, she founded her own illustration company, XO-LP. She began working as a full time artist in 2015, and never looked back.
Since XO-LP first opened, many have taken notice of her work and commissioned large pieces from her. Over the years, Palmer has created an 80-foot long mural for Outlets of Des Moines to celebrate their opening day, an outdoor wall mural in downtown Des Moines, a backdrop used for a USA Gymnastics competition, decorative canvases featured at a Facebook corporate event, and even a Rogue exercise box owned by Carrie Underwood, to name a few. Palmer’s work also graces many smaller projects, including several children’s menus in the Des Moines area.
Last year, the Iowa Finance Authority contacted Palmer and requested she create the final water tower design for their It’s in the Water contest. Palmer happily accepted the project as it had a special connection for her. Not just a Muscatine native, Palmer’s father created the Muscatine water tower’s original art work when Muscatine Power and Water originally built it.
“Once Muscatine was announced as the contest winner, I called my family to share the big news,” recalls Palmer: “I felt excited (and a little nervous) to be replacing my Dad’s artwork with my own. His design has been on the tower for as long as I can remember! It’s a pretty special opportunity. I really wanted to make him, and my hometown, proud,” she said.
Working with Muscatine Power and Water, Palmer got feedback from the community about some of the local landmarks and symbols they wanted to see on the water tower in her signature line drawn style. Palmer also consulted with Muscatine Power and Water and the Iowa Finance Authority to finalize her work. “I drew Muscatine icons that we felt best represented the city,” she explained. “I used my Dad’s design as inspiration and hope the City of Muscatine is happy with the finished project.”
If the weather continues to cooperate, Palmer’s new graphics may begin going up on the fully sanded and repainted water tower this week. Muscatine Power and water hopes to complete the work in August.