Lionel Dillon and Diane Sorber met while attending Parsons School of Design in New York in 1954. Their initial rivalry evolved into competitive friendship, a romantic relationship and eventually what has become a lasting marriage and artistic partnership.
They call their collaborative artistic approach the “third artist”, viewing themselves as a single artist composed of the greatest strengths of the two individuals, and more capable together than either could be individually. Though not unique, this kind of artistic cooperation is rare and difficult to manage, usually because of the issues artists have with clashes of ego.
The Dillons seem to have found key to working through these issues and have managed a very successful creative relationship. Usually credited as “Leo and Diane Dillon” or “The Dillons”, they are now widely recognized in American illustration and have garnered numerous awards for their illustrations for children’s books, science fiction and fantasy novels and mainstream works; including two Caldecott Medals, several New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, Boston Gobe/Horn Book Awards, Coretta Scott King Awards and the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal.
There is an interview with the Dillons on Locus in which they discuss the evolution and methods of their collaborative process.
Their work delves into a broad swath of cultural influences, and utilizes an equally wide array of media, techniques and stylistic direction, always in an effort to bring relevance to the nature of the work that the illustration is meant to accompany.
Looking over illustrations from the course of their career you will find work that is highly stylized and very graphic, work that is rendered in naturalistic detail and work that combines varying degrees of stylized design and realism.
Their illustrations can be wonderfully specific to the topic of the work, as in their fancifully appropriate illustrations for Nancy Willard’s Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch (image above, top).
The Akron Art Museum in Ohio is currently showing an exhibition called The Global Artistry of Leo and Diane Dillon that runs from now until June 21, 2009.
The Dillons don’t seem to have a dedicated web site, but I’ve assembled some resources below.
There was a book of their work published in 1981, The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon, but it’s out of print. It looks like Ken Steacy is publishing a new one.
Of course, you can also look for some of the many other books they’ve illustrated.
[Exhibition listing via Art Knowledge News]
7 Replies to “Leo and Diane Dillon”
Is it only because I am a novelist that I read this:
“Lionel Dillon and Diane Sorber met while attending Parsons School of Design in New York in 1954. Their initial rivalry evolved into competitive friendship, a romantic relationship and eventually what has become a lasting marriage and artistic partnership.”
And thought . . . that would make a fantastic novel?
Thank you for posting those illustrations; I love and admire the Dillons and their work, and am always interested in seeing illustrations I haven’t seen before.
I can’t believe it’s been so long since the book about the art of Leo and Diane Dillon was published! That was the year I moved to NYC and I happened to attend a book signing the Dillons were doing for the book at what was, at that time, the B.Daltons at the corner of 6th Ave. and 8th Street, (it’s now a Barnes and Noble). I can’t say I remember it as if it were yesterday, but it doesn’t seem like 28 years ago. oy!
Excellent post… I love the pictures… Great job man.. keep it up..
I am in love with the book “Dreams”. I work in a school and our principal read the staff the book .The pictures speak to me. Especially the pictures of “The person reaching the sun” and the “all generations”. I wish I could purchase these pictures as prints or posters. I belong to a Reiki group and some of my friends also wish they could purchase them too. Keep up the wonderful artwork. Thanks
Thanks for collecting this information. I got to see the exhibit this afternoon (1/5/2011) in Denton, Texas. They did so many great titles AFTER I left the children’s literature business.
I have a book that has been illustrated by you both called the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, It does not have a jacket and I cannot seem to find another like it on the web, the cover of mine has been marked on by a child, however it is gold embossed and each page is stated to be bordered in “fifth colored gold ink on Karma cream paper”, could you please tell me more about the book
Comments are closed.