Icons and Legends-Leo and Diane Dillon
I am sad to have to offer my condolences as I post this Icons and Legends article. Leo and Diane Dillon easily made my list of Icons and Legends. I was saddened to learn that Leo Dillon passed away on May 26th. So I’m posting this as a tribute to him, his wife and their numerous contributions to the art world. He will be missed.
I first became familiar with the Dillon’s through their magical Caldecott award winning book, “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.” Their artwork was African inspired and perfectly captured the tone and content of the book. I only wanted to learn more about them. I got the chance in college when they were the subject of Illustration History.
Leo and Diane Dillon are a married couple who have collaborated artistically for the length of their five decade relationship. They met while attending Parsons School of Design in New York in 1954. Initially they were artistic rivals! Rivalry evolved into competitive friendship which then evolved into a romantic relationship and eventually a lasting marriage and artistic partnership. They graduated in 1956 and married the next year. They graduated in 1956 and married the next year. They have one son, Lee who is also an artist and has worked collaboratively with his parents.
“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.” taken from Lines and Colors post here.
Their work and style varies from project to project taking on the qualities and aesthetics that the story requires but remaining infused with influences from their individual cultures and collective experiences. They have worked on both children’s literature and adult paperbacks.
Please enjoy below a narrated variation of their book, Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears in the below video narrated by James Earl Jones.