Have you ever been introduced to an artist over and over? And each time you see his work you are amazed and impressed but still don't retain the name. I have been introduced to Tony Diterlizzi in various forms several times in the last couple years. I'm always awed by his detailed art and his depth of character. His characters show such a huge range of emotions. He has a very beautiful style of art but for some reason I am shocked every time I see his name. I not sure why I can't recognize his work instantly but I can't.
A couple years ago while digging around in my parent's children's book library I stumbled upon a version of The Spider and the Fly, the cautionary poem by Mary Howitt. The poem itself is fun and dark but the illustration in the book took my breath away. They were amazing. Funny and dark and detailed in a way I hadn't seen before. The spider oozed charm and menace. The fly, in her little flapper dress and hat, was the picture of flighty innocence. The ghosts, who tried to warn the fly, practically shimmered on the page. It was a beautiful book. At the time I noticed that it was done by Tony Diterlizzi but then promptly forgot.
The same is true when I read the first of the Spiderwick Chronicles. My nephew again brought me a book and told me that I had to read it. I read the first in an afternoon. I enjoyed the first book immensely but never followed on with the series. Most of you already know my aversion to series. The artwork inside was fun, and strangely enough reminded me of my old D&D artwork. I would later find out that Tony has done work for them too. Tony co-wrote the books with Holly Black. But again the name escaped me.
So this weekend I ended up at the library picking up tons of books on illustration and some children's books. I picked up The Dangerous Alphabet which I'll have to talk about later. (that one needs its own post). But one the illustration books I picked up was "The Art of Reading", a book put out to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Reading is Fundamental program. In the book, well-loved authors and illustrators talk about the books that made them love reading. They also draw a picture from the book. It is a wonderful book that I have been reading through voraciously. But what really caught my eye was a picture of a little pig. It was the third or fourth page in and this little pig is picking flowers. Simple little illustration but the emotion on this little pig is both laughable and sad at the same time. It is such an incredibly cute creature. So I look at the artist signature and of course it is Tony Diterlizzi. Of course.
I went to his website and was completely bowled over. I've seen so much of this man's work and didn't realize it. I would seriously recommend heading over for a little bit. Not only is that little pig there (in the art section), but Tony offers a ton of nice downloads and wallpapers along with sketches and finished pages from his books. He's even recorded a couple little videos for each page. I think I clicked on each page a couple of times just to hear the different videos. Funny stuff. I own The Spider and Fly. Now I just have to buy the rest. Beautiful. And from now on, I'll remember this name.