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Never Abandon Imagination: The Fantastical Art of Tony DiTerlizzi

December 18, 2017

If you’ve been following me on social media for the past year, you know that in November I celebrated the opening of a retrospective exhibition at The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

To say that the experience was surreal would be an understatement. Having grown up copying Rockwell’s iconic images, it is an amazing experience just to stand in the presence of his original oil paintings, let alone hang alongside them. Several of his most beloved images (like “Triple Self-Portrait” and “No Swimming”) are interspersed with my drawings of dragons, fairies and other monsters.

Speaking of monsters, this exhibition marks the first time Dungeons & Dragons art has hung in a museum. This is a milestone I am proud to reach (but frankly, I would LOVE to see a show dedicated to the history of the game) and was doubly proud to share the opening events with folks that I worked with from that early part of my career.

Fellow artists, writers, editors, game designers, teachers, family and friends also joined in the opening festivities. Most importantly, the event was open to the public allowing fans to attend. This meant so much to have all my favorite people in one place to celebrate this accomplishment. Your support through kind thoughts and cheerful letters have encouraged me for the past 25 years and will fuel me to continue for another 25.

Of course, the exhibition showcases art from my many children’s books, including The Spider & The Fly, Kenny and The Dragon, the WondLa trilogy and The Spiderwick Chronicles. There are interactive features which allow you to dive deeper into my influences as well as see how I created the artwork for the WondLa books.

On top of that, I created an installation piece in the form of a 8 x 10′ mobile swarming with hundreds of fairies. I painted new depictions of sprites from Spiderwick, D&D and even Tinsel–the Christmas fairy from my upcoming picture book, The Broken Ornament. Each fairy was printed on a thin sheet of clear plastic then hung from twisted willow branches.

This installation was an aspect of the show I was especially excited about. I wanted to create something unique for the museum. I also painted a new piece for the exhibition poster and helped design the 100-page catalog.

If you could not make the opening, fear not, for I will be attending monthly events at the museum throughout the duration of the show. I’ve added details to a few upcoming events with additional dates to follow. I hope to see you there.

Have a wonderful holiday season. Here’s to a happy 2018!


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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.