If you’re looking for an exciting exhibition to take the kids (or young at heart) to this Summer, the Mint Museum Randolph should be your go to destination. The Never Abandon Imagination exhibit featuring the ‘Fantastical Art of Tony DiTerlizzi’ opened to the public on June 22nd, and runs through November 3rd. On the opening day museum guests were not only treated to free admission, but there was also an artist talk with Tony followed by a book signing.
As an art lover and avid reader it was so exciting to see the different stages of Tony’s work, from pencil drawings to the finished piece. Several of the galleries had rooms that were completely made over to give a more immersive experience, with the illustrations on wallpaper that fit with the theme of each book. The exhibition covers books (The Spider & The Fly, Kenny and the Dragon, The Story of Diva & Flea, the WondLa trilogy, and The Spiderwick Chronicles) along with work from the artists early years as a designer for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.
When you first enter the exhibition there is a reading table where you can flip through the books Tony has written or illustrate. Or if you want to stay awhile, there’s a ‘faux’ bookcase with bean bag chairs to give young readers a more comfortable spot to read away a Saturday afternoon.
Kenny & the Dragon
In addition to the reading nook, there are two drawing stations for children to try their hand and drawing some of Tony’s most beloved characters. So be sure to visit all three of the galleries (Jones, Dwelle and Belk) so you don’t miss anything from the exhibition.
Also a fun activity, it’s fun for both children (and the young at heart) to find the different characters that are on the walls through the galleries which include precocious sprites.
The Story of Diva & Flea
One of my favorite books (besides The Spiderwick Chronicles) is The Story of Diva & Flea. The book is set in Paris (which made me love it before I’d even read the first page) and revolves around Diva (a very fashionable dog) and Flea a cat who lives on the streets of Paris. They are very unlikely friends, but they find combradiery through their adventures with one another.
Usually, I am a logjam of stories that I have conceived in my brain and drawings that go along with those stories. Some of these stories have been released. Some of them, I’m still working on. So, it’s very rare that I will veer off and work on a story with someone else; but some years ago, I got a call from my friend, Mo Willems, and Mo had been living in Paris for a year and coming up with all kinds of great and new stories.
He gave me a ring and said, “I’ve been working on this story about a cat and a dog, and to be honest with you, I’ve been trying to draw the illustrations for this story in your style.” In typical Mo fashion, he showed them to his wife, Cher, and Cher said, “Well, do you know who draws like Tony DiTerlizzi? Tony Diterlizzi.”
So, Mo gave me a call. I was very flattered, of course, and he sent over the text. I, maybe, was one or two chapters in and I had already started drawing. I hadn’t even thought about it. I immediately grabbed a pencil and started sketching out the characters, and that’s a really good sign. That meant I was not only sucked in as a reader, but already thinking about how I would illustrate the book. That’s not a manufactured emotion. That’s a real emotion and I try to follow those emotions. – Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spider and The Fly
Want to learn more about the drawing process, there are interactive screens that show you Tony’s process step by step. This Interior Illustration from The Search for WondLa (2010) is one of the pieces you can view step by step. The piece is an ink on vellum that has been digitally colorized.
You can also find a guide on the Mint Museums website where the artist himself talks you through the different parts of the exhibit. — Visit mintmuseum.org/tony/
After walking through the exhibit, we had the chance to have Tony sign the books we’d picked up in the museums gift shop. Whether you’re a fan of The Spiderwick Chronicles, or a fan of Tony’s other work, there are many gift options from books, to mugs and artwork, the shop also has some pre-signed books.
If you didn’t make it to the event to meet Tony in June, the artist will be returning to the Mint in September, so be sure to keep your eye on the Mint Museum for updates.