Tony DiTerlizzi

The award-win­ning au­thor and il­lus­tra­tor shares a peek into his fan­tas­tic workspace in­spired by ob­jects from child­hood

ImagineFX - - ImagineNation News -

To un­der­stand me as an au­thor, artist and cre­ative spirit I of­fer you this glimpse into my stu­dio – my in­ner­most sanc­tum. All the raw el­e­ments that ig­nite my imag­i­na­tion are found here, as are many of my well-kept trea­sures and se­crets.

My stu­dio is nes­tled in the base­ment of our home. The cre­ative work done here, by all mem­bers of our fam­ily, serves as the foun­da­tion for all that we have. Al­though I mostly work dur­ing the day, I love the lux­ury of pop­ping down to the stu­dio any time that in­spi­ra­tion strikes. Slid­ing doors and spa­cious win­dows face east, wel­com­ing warm sun­light each morn­ing. The view out­side looks out upon fields, farms, for­est pre­serves and hills. When I work dur­ing the day, I of­ten hear the cry of red-tailed hawks; and the hoot of great horned owls call­ing at night. This close prox­im­ity to the nat­u­ral world keeps me con­nected to my great­est in­spi­ra­tion.

Old books, toys and games clut­ter the shelves and nooks of my workspace. It’s dusty but comfy. These nos­tal­gic arte­facts re­mind me of what it was like to be a kid. Each dingy toy takes me back to a spe­cific time in my life. Each dog-eared book re­minds me of my own artis­tic jour­ney and the many vi­sion­ar­ies who shaped it.

The walls lead­ing down to my stu­dio are cov­ered with orig­i­nal paint­ings, draw­ings and sketches by those I ad­mire – both past and present. I thrive on vis­ual in­spi­ra­tion,

and so my stu­dio is dec­o­rated with stuff that stim­u­lates my eyes and mind. Char­ac­ters, crea­tures and books forged from my imag­i­na­tion in­ter­min­gle with chil­dren’s clas­sics and mas­ters of il­lus­tra­tion. It’s the dream ver­sion of my child­hood bed­room.

New York Times best­selling au­thor and il­lus­tra­tor Tony im­bues all his books with a rich imag­i­na­tion. You can see his work on In­sta­gram, Face­book, Twit­ter or at

An orig­i­nal wa­ter­colour by my hero, Brian Froud, peeks out from be­hind an old Spi­der­wick book­store dis­play. As you can see, I col­lect a lot of old toys. I of­ten use their vin­tage pack­ag­ing as in­spi­ra­tion for fonts, type­set­ting and de­sign. My ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer’s chair from The Spi­der­wick Chron­i­cles is kept warm by Ker­mit the Frog. The shoot­ing script lies next to him. Be­hind him are com­pact discs form­ing part of my mu­sic col­lec­tion. Jim Bis­sell, the pro­duc­tion de­signer for The Spi­der­wick Chron­i­cles film, gifted me a clear resin mush­room prop from his first film, E.T. The Ex­tra-Ter­res­trial. A life-sized gob­lin re­hearsal pup­pet from The Spi­der­wick Chron­i­cles film stands guard. It was in­cred­i­ble to see my il­lus­tra­tions and de­signs brought to life by vis­ual FX pioneers Phil Tip­pett and In­dus­trial Light and Magic.

My draw­ing ta­ble looks out to the fields and farms. The chang­ing light, colour and sea­sons pro­vides end­less in­spi­ra­tion. I’m sketch­ing out my next pic­ture book – the loose pa­per is eas­ier for me to scan when it comes to cre­at­ing the book dummy. An over­sized cork bul­letin board dom­i­nates the far wall of the stu­dio. The board re­flects projects I’m work­ing on. Here, it dis­plays early de­signs and in­spi­ra­tions for the Christ­mas-themed pic­ture book I’m writ­ing and il­lus­trat­ing. A 25th an­niver­sary ar­cade edi­tion of Pac Man is per­fect for blow­ing off steam after an in­tense dead­line. Hav­ing started my il­lus­tra­tion ca­reer in the early 1990s work­ing on role­play­ing games like Dun­geons & Dragons, I’ve col­lected many vin­tage items from the early days of gam­ing. Only gamers of a cer­tain gen­er­a­tion know what’s in the Crown Royal bag. I own a ridicu­lous sup­ply cabi­net, which was cus­tom made by Richard Dun­brack. Tiny draw­ers hold my pens, inks, nibs and tubes of Hol­bein Acryla Gouache – my pre­ferred medium. That’s an au­then­tic iron-cast Naughty Nel­lie boot jack mounted near the cabi­net door­jamb. Tiers of wooden flat files run along the length of my stu­dio. Each drawer is la­belled for a par­tic­u­lar project. A peek in­side of­fers not only a glimpse into my imag­i­na­tion, but my life’s work.

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