The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

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Thread: The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

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    The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

    The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

    I found this blog the other day while searching for examples of their work online. Leo and Diane Dillon's work is something I've taken for granted because I've been familiar with it since I was a kid, without ever stopping to notice it. It wasn't even until I found that blog that I realized the people who illustrated Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears are responsible for the Narnia covers I grew up with.

    This is one of my favorite covers, and probably the reason I read the book.
    The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

    If someone asked me what it is I like about their work, I don't think I could answer. I don't know what draws me in, but I love it. Plus I think it's so sweet that they work so closely together.

    Just wanted to share the link, for any fans who weren't aware of it.

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    Oh my god, insta-following right now!

    I've always loved the Dillons, even as a kid before I knew who they were... I was lucky to catch a small exhibit of their originals in the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library once, amazing stuff.

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    The Dillons are amazing. And I love their concept of "the third artist."


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    Never heard of the guy but like the work. It has oddities like the hand but it doesn't really bug me any. Then it's both realism with light reflecting off the chainmail but pitch black single value hair that blends into the shadow. I just love that kind of interesting mixtures in pieces. Then the bottom of the cape fading into an ocean wave of sorts.

    Never read the book but has me interested in the subject matter with all these features on the attire.

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    Thanks so much for the link! They are amazing. I did not know they were a husband and wife team. I remember these top two covers striking me so hard as a kid. I knew it was the same artist as soon as I saw OP image.


    http://leo-and-diane-dillon.blogspot...nica%20Furlong

    Thank you for sharing I was really happy to see more stuff by them.

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    I read that Garth Nix series just for the covers! It had a intriguing concept behind it, with one of the most original magical systems I've seen. I loved those covers and I never could figure out why. Maybe I just am drawn to the blatant use of symbolism.

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    Beautiful cover work. I've seen this book so many times at the bookstore but never bought it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtonw View Post
    The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

    I found this blog the other day while searching for examples of their work online. Leo and Diane Dillon's work is something I've taken for granted because I've been familiar with it since I was a kid, without ever stopping to notice it. It wasn't even until I found that blog that I realized the people who illustrated Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears are responsible for the Narnia covers I grew up with.

    This is one of my favorite covers, and probably the reason I read the book.
    The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon

    If someone asked me what it is I like about their work, I don't think I could answer. I don't know what draws me in, but I love it. Plus I think it's so sweet that they work so closely together.

    Just wanted to share the link, for any fans who weren't aware of it.


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    This is such an odd style. What is it?
    I found an interview in which they say they never actively worked it out, nor recognized it as such.

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    I've been a big fan of the Dillons for awhile. I first discovered their work through their covers for Harlan Ellison. Those still remain my favorites.

    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post
    This is such an odd style. What is it?
    I found an interview in which they say they never actively worked it out, nor recognized it as such.
    Can I ask an honest question? Why this need to define a style? I have seen this a few times here now and I was wondering. I have a feeling if you went to 10 of your favorite artists and asked them to define their "style" they might kick around a little, hem and haw but never really answer the question to your satisfaction. I know when people ask me it gets pretty awkward. It seems can can list some things but including always excludes.

    Defining styles seems an exercise for critics and historians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Can I ask an honest question? Why this need to define a style? I have seen this a few times here now and I was wondering. I have a feeling if you went to 10 of your favorite artists and asked them to define their "style" they might kick around a little, hem and haw but never really answer the question to your satisfaction. I know when people ask me it gets pretty awkward. It seems can can list some things but including always excludes.

    Defining styles seems an exercise for critics and historians.
    Hmm.. this is the first time I have asked for a style, so can't answer your question about a constant need. I asked because of what you said in your last statement. I am trying to learn about it, so I got curious what it would be.

    But the wider obsession with it, no idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post
    Hmm.. this is the first time I have asked for a style, so can't answer your question about a constant need. I asked because of what you said in your last statement. I am trying to learn about it, so I got curious what it would be.

    But the wider obsession with it, no idea.
    Right, this was a question meant for the wider audience not you specifically Louis. You just happened to have the easy quotable comment It seems that we have this need for a definition of style. Whether to pursue it? or put people into categories?

    Maybe it's my knee jerk reaction to much of what happened when I was in school an after. This art school need for their students to immediately find, pursue and define a style. I think it led to a lot of derivative work and it seems to be happening again. Although I think the derivative thing now can be attributed more to the internet and access to other's work and tutorials etc..

    Or maybe it's just my extreme difficulty in pigeonholing my own work or even the desire to pigeonhole my work.

    But this would hijack this discussion and I've done enough of that. Maybe a start of another discussion.

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    I think it's just people's need to stick labels on things... It goes right along with the impulse to tack a different name onto every possible sub-genre of music (and then argue about which type of sub-sub-sub-genre is superior.)

    It goes along with the impulse to label people as types, for that matter...

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    Style is not a genre of painting; style is the sum of your beliefs, abilities and shortcomings as a painter. Every true artist paints in their own style.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Can I ask an honest question? Why this need to define a style? I have seen this a few times here now and I was wondering. I have a feeling if you went to 10 of your favorite artists and asked them to define their "style" they might kick around a little, hem and haw but never really answer the question to your satisfaction. I know when people ask me it gets pretty awkward. It seems can can list some things but including always excludes.

    Defining styles seems an exercise for critics and historians.
    I didn't ask it out loud but I've been pondering how to describe their style too. I mentioned in my original post that I don't know for sure what it is about their work that appeals to me so much. Being able to articulate what it is that sets it apart would be useful, wouldn't it? And since this thread is about them and their work, it's an appropriate thing to discuss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post
    This is such an odd style. What is it?
    It's "Leo and Diane Dillon" style. One of the things that's so interesting about them is that, even though their work a product of two individuals, and even though they work in an amazing variety of different media, it's always distinct and identifiable.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtonw View Post
    I didn't ask it out loud but I've been pondering how to describe their style too. I mentioned in my original post that I don't know for sure what it is about their work that appeals to me so much. Being able to articulate what it is that sets it apart would be useful, wouldn't it? And since this thread is about them and their work, it's an appropriate thing to discuss.
    But being able to articulate what sets them apart moves it away from "a" style to what is unique about them. Style is generalization of perceived parts. The great artists of the past didn't develop styles they painted and then people put labels on them. Others fell in line and the bandwagon rolled on.

    So when someone like the Dillons come along we want to put a label on what they do or do we just want to discuss what's cool about their work? Do we start a new ism with them? Discussing what sets them apart is not categorizing them. We can just talk about their work right? Or is it important that we put a definitive style label on them?

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    I was gonna post this earlier, but then saw Elwell beat me to it. Then I thought, what the hell...

    Since I brought up Harlan Ellison already, this reminds me of an essay I read by him once.

    He talked about his frustration with people constantly trying to pigeonhole him as a writer. His main frustration was how he's always classified as a "Science-Fiction" writer, even though he hasn't written science fiction since the sixties. He tried for many years to redefine the specific "genre" he worked in (mainly to correct ignorant journalists who would constantly write him up as a "Sci-Fi writer"), from "Futurist" to "Speculative Fiction" to "Magical Realism" to whatever. In the end (Seeing as how there was no "catchall" term for his work), whenever someone would ask him what type of stuff he writes, he decided to respond with, "I write 'Harlan Ellison Stories.'"

    Leo and Diane Dillon make "Dillon Paintings." (Not to be confused with "Dylan Paintings).

    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

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    "Leo and Diane Dillon make 'Dillon Paintings.' "

    That sums it up rather nicely. Leo and Diane met when they were students at Parsons and have been together ever since; their son Lee is a talented artist, too, who has created incredibly ornate frames out of brass and bronze for some of their paintings.

    One of the reasons, perhaps, that the Dillons aren't as widely known as they should be is because they don't "specialize": they work in every field, use a wide variety of media, and pretty much style their approach to what works best for the project they're working on. Childrens books, SF, political commentary, movie posters...they've done 'em. They've won the Caldecott, the Hugo, the Hamilton King, and the Spectrum Grand Master awards. I'd highly reccomend The Art of Leo and Dian Dillon (about 30 years old, but still pretty easy to find) for anyone interested in learning more about their career and methodlogy.

    A pretty good interview with them can be found on-line here:
    http://www.locusmag.com/2000/Issues/04/Dillons.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnie Fenner View Post
    "Leo and Diane Dillon make 'Dillon Paintings.' "

    That sums it up rather nicely. Leo and Diane met when they were students at Parsons and have been together ever since; their son Lee is a talented artist, too, who has created incredibly ornate frames out of brass and bronze for some of their paintings.

    One of the reasons, perhaps, that the Dillons aren't as widely known as they should be is because they don't "specialize": they work in every field, use a wide variety of media, and pretty much style their approach to what works best for the project they're working on. Childrens books, SF, political commentary, movie posters...they've done 'em. They've won the Caldecott, the Hugo, the Hamilton King, and the Spectrum Grand Master awards. I'd highly reccomend The Art of Leo and Dian Dillon (about 30 years old, but still pretty easy to find) for anyone interested in learning more about their career and methodlogy.

    A pretty good interview with them can be found on-line here:
    http://www.locusmag.com/2000/Issues/04/Dillons.html
    I completely agree about the Dillon's and what I find interesting is 90% of the time in portfolio reviews for young artists and illustrators the advice is completely the opposite- specialize, don't say you like to work on everything, make sure your style is in sync with whats current. It would seems just the wrong kind of advice if the Dillon's are examples of award winning successful artists.

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    Ha, I'm actually right in the middle of making an artbook for a hypothetical film for this series as a graduation project.

    JFierce (and anyone else for that matter), I can really recommend the series since I think it's great storytelling; not your typical high-fantasy with dragons and elves and dwarfs, but with a nice modern/rationalized twist of magic - I guess this defiance of an exact writing style matches nicely with the discussion going on here with the Dillon couple having a distinct style. I also think the story gives a clear description of the world surrounding the characters, while leaving enough room for the reader to make up his or her own mental image, which is inspiring from an artistic point of view.

    I'm actually a little glad that I didn't find this edition/cover before I had a few sketches on paper, since it's such an attractive style that it would've influenced me a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    But being able to articulate what sets them apart moves it away from "a" style to what is unique about them. Style is generalization of perceived parts. The great artists of the past didn't develop styles they painted and then people put labels on them. Others fell in line and the bandwagon rolled on.

    So when someone like the Dillons come along we want to put a label on what they do or do we just want to discuss what's cool about their work? Do we start a new ism with them? Discussing what sets them apart is not categorizing them. We can just talk about their work right? Or is it important that we put a definitive style label on them?
    Fair enough, though I don't share your phobia of labels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rengin View Post
    JFierce (and anyone else for that matter), I can really recommend the series since I think it's great storytelling; not your typical high-fantasy with dragons and elves and dwarfs, but with a nice modern/rationalized twist of magic - I guess this defiance of an exact writing style matches nicely with the discussion going on here with the Dillon couple having a distinct style. I also think the story gives a clear description of the world surrounding the characters, while leaving enough room for the reader to make up his or her own mental image, which is inspiring from an artistic point of view.
    I wish I had chosen a different image, because I'm not going to endear myself to any Garth Nix fans when I say Sabriel was garbage. A passable story with really terrible writing that literally angered me in places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnie Fenner View Post
    I'd highly reccomend The Art of Leo and Dian Dillon (about 30 years old, but still pretty easy to find) for anyone interested in learning more about their career and methodlogy.
    Easy to find, maybe, but not for a reasonable price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtonw View Post
    I wish I had chosen a different image, because I'm not going to endear myself to any Garth Nix fans when I say Sabriel was garbage. A passable story with really terrible writing that literally angered me in places.
    Really? I guess I just have bad taste. I liked it. It wasn't a boring derivative work of trite story telling coupled with the usual predictable plot.

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    Leo Dillon died this past Saturday. Irene Gallo has a tribute up at Tor.com.


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    Truly sad.

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    Rest in peace. What a tragedy.

    BLAHBLAHBLAH
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    I was really sad to hear about his passing. I loved his and Diane's artwork, having first seen it Virginia Hamiliton's "The People Could Fly" collection, and later finding out they had done the work for the Mosquito book (loved having it read to me as a child). I remember studying their work when I was first starting to learn to draw, and I bought my own copy of "The People Could Fly" just a few years ago for the artwork as much as for the stories.

    "It's all about the triumph of intellect and romance, over brute force and cynicism." Craig Ferguson on Dr. Who
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    "People often comment on the ‘Dillon style.’ I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything."
    –Leo Dillon, 2000

    From http://www.scificongress.com/leo-dil...st-dead-at-79/


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    Better question would have been not about their style, but about their technique, and how it is applied.

    A breakdown of sorts of how they went about achieving the painting's visual effect, than to what classification they would fall into.

    If you (no one in particular) want to catagorize their 'style', search through an art history book and find paintings that are similiar and call it a modern version.

    *POOF*
    IHAVESPOKENDONOTQUESTIONMEORYOUWILLLOSEYOURARTISTI CABLITIES!!!!!!!!

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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