Leo and Diane Dillon

2008 Lifetime Achievement Award (Contemporary): Leo and Diane Dillon

Leo Dillon and Diane Sorber were born eleven days apart on opposite coasts – Leo in Brooklyn, New York, and Diane near Los Angeles, California. When they met at Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1954, each already aspired to a life of art. Meeting first through their artwork, each immediately recognized the talent and mastery of the other. Over the years, their competitive friendship evolved into a lasting marriage and artistic partnership. "In terms of our work, it is virtually impossible to consider us separately," say the Dillons. "On every project we undertake, we hash out ideas together."

The Dillons have produced an incredible variety of drawings and illustrations for prints, book jackets, textbooks, album covers – and over 50 children’s books. The approach they take and the media and techniques they use change with each book, yet each project bears certain distinct hallmarks: clean, precise lines, painstaking attention to detail, warmth of characterization, and innovative use of color. The range of styles they’ve explored is no less impressive than the quality of each illustration. Among the many honors they have received are a Hugo Award, two back-to-back Caldecott Medals—for Ashanti to Zulu and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears – five New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, four Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards, two Coretta Scott King Awards, three Coretta Scott King Honors, and the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal.

Leo and Diane Dillon have one son, Lee, who is a painter, sculptor, and jewelry craftsman. They live in Brooklyn, New York.