Formative influences: Leo & Diane Dillon (1933 - 2012)
The Dillons’ work was characterized by stylistic diversity, with influences ranging over African folk art, Japanese woodcuts, old-master paintings and medieval illumination.
It was also noteworthy for the diversity of the people it portrayed. This was especially striking in the 1970s, when the Dillons began illustrating for children: until then, the smiling faces portrayed in picture books had been overwhelmingly white.
The two major statements they conveyed in their work were. “The first is all people, whatever the culture or race, experience the same things in living on this planet. We all have a lot in common,” state the Dillons. “It is our beliefs that divide us. We have little control over what life brings us but we can change our thoughts.The second statement is that since the beginning of history, people have expressed themselves graphically in wonderful and unique ways. Art in its many forms has survived to inform us of lives long gone. Art inspires, lifts our spirit, and brings beauty to our lives. We wish to pay homage to it and the people that created it.”
The Dillons received awards as diverse as their books, including a Hugo Award for science fiction illustration A NAACPImage Award, four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, four Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards, two Coretta Scott King Awards, three Coretta Scott King Honors, and the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal.