I've known Tony for years mostly from the Decatur Book Festival; although, he first came on my radar when I was working for a packaging company in Chattanooga, Tennessee... one of our primary clients was Moon Pie (yes, that Moon Pie). We received an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure. I completely flipped over it. The artwork was beyond anything I'd ever seen. And even though I already knew I wanted to illustrate children's books, I think it was Jimmy that put me on the actual path to making it happen. Of course, I had to email him to see if I could arrange a field trip for our Winthrop Design students to visit the exhibit and listen to Tony talk about his process. Happily, it's all coming together swimmingly well - YAY!
Meanwhile, considering I'd never been to The Mint before, and that I might have to carpool, I thought it would be a good idea to do a dry run... and be able to enjoy the exhibit without distractions! So, Stan and I headed up to Charlotte this past weekend. The museum itself sits in the midst of a wide field with old trees - gorgeousness in the city.
The museum itself is magic the moment you step into it. There were DiTerlizzi characters scattered everywhere!
Tony's fairies hid in nooks and crannies and simply hung out everywhere you turned around.
The gift shop was full of Tony's critters in every form you can imagine - from stationary to miniatures.
Being the humble guy that Tony is, the exhibit begins with a tribute to the illustrators who were his creative influences. No surprise, thre was Brian Froud, Arthur Rackham, and many other familiar greats. Although, I didn't see Garth Williams. I'll have to ask him about that one.
Click the image above to see it larger.
The exhibit itself was set up like a book, with a Table of Contents.
What a thrill to see some of Tony's reference materials for Jonny Zangwow!
And how he used references for some of his Dungeons and Dragons work.
Despite all of his amazing color work (mostly acrylic gouache on Bristol), his pencil drawings were probabaly my favorites. The sheer skill at that sketchy stage was simply breathtaking.
Okay, the color work was breathtaking too. And I suspect Tony painted the wall mural that many of his pieces hung against.
There's nothing like seeing hand-made artwork up close and personal. It reminds me why I want to continue to work traditionally. This was the piece he created to advertise the exhibit.
Also special was the peek inside his studio. They had enormous life-sized photos of Tony's work creative space, his desk (with desks in front for patrons to try their hands at drawing like Tony...
and his bookshelf.
Stan got into reading The Spiderwick Chronicles while we were there - that might be where you first heard of Tony's work if you don't follow children's books.
There was also work from his books: Ted, The Spider and the Fly, Wizards of the Coast, and his newest series, Wondla. It was lovely to enjoy the exhibit at my leisure. Next time I see it, it will be a little crazy as I'll be surrounded by students - and Tony too! Don't worry, I'll share that with you as well!