Leo and Diane Dillon Signature

There's something magical about the Dillons' art, not the least of which is that it exists at all. Collaborative art is, by nature, a series of compromises. Somehow the Dillons have managed to compromise themselves into an on-going series of masterworks. They met at Parsons School of Design in New York. They graduated in 1956 and were married in 1957.

Fifty years of collaboration, thousands of images, hundreds of books, five decades of marriage—all filled with creative compromises that are, literally, indescribable. They do and they don't have a style. They do in the sense that I can always recognize their work—always! They don't in that they bring a new set of compromises to each assignment. The approach, the media, the techniques, the vision—these all change based on the stimuli of the manuscript or the task. Their palette of skills and their unique vision continue to combine in a glorious kaleidoscope of new and vibrant and different styles. They consider these to be the work of the "third artist", the concept that a greater good comes from the sublimation of the individual ego in service of the art. How they manage this is completely beyond me, but the results are obvious and that's all I'm going to give you on this page. Results. Lots of images from an award-winning career. For a better view of the art, search out the originals. They're worth the effort.

As you may have gathered, I'm fairly enamored with the Dillons, and not just with their art. The years of compromising in their search for the best image has spilled over into their personalities as well. They are two of the nicest, most gracious people. Their deeply felt sense of morality and justice underlies their work and their obvious joy in creating work for children is a special joy for those of us viewing it. It's an honor to know them.

Leo - Dude
solo Leo - Dude 7/57
Escapade 58
Escapade 6/58

three paperbacks
Three paperbacks from 1963

Medieval World pb cover
a tour-de-force in
(wood veneer}

Till We Have Faces
(plastic & liquid steel)
Flexing their media muscles                  

The Member of the Wedding
Sea and Jungle
The Sea & The Jungle
Let My People Go 480 Witches Stag
The diversity of compromise and the uncompromising quality that results - dust jackets
(1962, 1964, 1968, 1968)
Late '60s
paperbacks &
the first of many
Harlan Ellison
hardback dustjackets.
Synthajoy and Past Master Revolving, Left Hand Lafferty books Dangerous Visions

Claymore and Kilt
Claymore and Kilt
book illustration - 1967

Leo and Diane were doing illustrations for books during the '60s, but the '70s saw this aspect of their work explode!
Above is from
Songs and Stories
From Uganda
, 1974

The first of two consecutive Caldecott Medal books - 1975
Wrinkle in Time
Cover for the
Newbery Award winning
A Wrinkle in Time
from 1979

I could continue with this litany of images and never repeat a style. I could also regale you with information about them, their working methods, their son, Lee, the awards, etc. But someone else has already documented all that. There are other web pages devoted to the Dillons that have a more modern slant and personal data in depth. Or you can go to your local bookstore and purchase any of their material still in print - and there is much that is available.

From me, I simply say thanks, folks, for a lifetime (and counting) of joyful, surprising and beautiful work. Your efforts are always appreciated and I look forward, more than I can tell you, to the sight of a new cover or dust jacket or book just so I can be delighted anew.

Leo Dillon died May 26, 2012. He will be missed, but we are all so much richer for having shared a world with him. Thanks one more time.


To find out more about Leo and Diane Dillon, see:

The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon Byron Preiss, editor, 1981 Ballantine
The Illustrator in America 1880 to 1980 Walt and Roger Reed, 1984 Society of Illustrators
Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books 1976-1985 1986, Hornbook
Talking With Artists Pat Cummings, editor, 1992 Bradbury
Step-By-Step vol.13:5 Susan E. Davis, 1997 Step-by-Step
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Knowledge Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., 1998

Illustrations copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 1998 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated 2012.

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