Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quick catch-up and Happy Holidays!

So while LIPS TOUCH didn't win the NBA for Y.A. fiction (see previous post), Laini, Clementine, and I (and Laini's mother who accompanied to sight-see and help with baby-sitting) had a FABulous time visiting NY once again and the awards banquet and show were amazing. We were truly honored just to have our book as a finalist among other such wonderful works of literature and art. A HUGE thanks to our Publisher, Arthur A. Levine (and everyone at his imprint!) for bringing us out and showing us a such a great time. Here we are upon entering the event (we haven't been this dressed up since our wedding!):

Congrats to all of the other finalists and even bigger congrats to the 4 winners! It was a pleasure to meet them all and also to get to meet all of the judges. If you're interested, here's Laini reading an excerpt from LIPS TOUCH the night before the banquet at another event for the finalists (click over to YouTube to avoid the screwy cropping of my art slideshow that Blogger does...)

Recently I've been working on art for several projects. One of them is a small but VERY fun project was with the incredibly talented Barry Lyga (of "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl" fame, as well as "Boy Toy," the newly released title "Goth Girl Rising," and other books out and in the works). More on that to come in early 2010.

Laini and I also collaborated on a short sequential story for an upcoming Image Comics fairy tale anthology (out sometime in mid to late 2010). Our talented writer/artist/publisher friend Jim Valentino (he was Image's publisher at the time when THE DROWNED was acquired. Thanks Jim!!) asked us to contribute and it was a BLAST working on it. It'll be published by Image under one of Jim's imprints -- Silverline Books -- to be exact. Anyhow, some of the other contributors to the anthology include Mike Allred, Doug TenNapel, and Ted McKeever (and a BUNCH of others). Here's a panel from our story (written by Laini & art by me):

I was honored to be interviewed by Jules over at the how-do-they-have-time-to-put-this-all-together too cool for school blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Thanks Jules and to everyone for their kind comments!

Lastly, one of the other projects I've been working on is hinted at in the (7-Imp) interview and I hope to have some news to share sometime in the coming weeks or months. I'll only say that I'm SO excited about it and I can't wait to get to work on the project as a whole!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LIPS TOUCH named as 1 of 5 Y.A. finalists for the National Book Award!

We are SO honored and excited! And I'm SO proud of my wife and her beautiful writing!

Go here for a list of all of the nominees.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Booklist Starred Review for LIPS TOUCH that compares Laini's writing to Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint!

*Lips Touch: Three Times*
Taylor, Laini (Author) , Di Bartolo, Jim (Illustrator)
Oct 2009. 272 p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, hardcover, $16.99. (9780545055857).
"...Taylor’s three novellas form a triptych of beautiful fantasy writing reminiscent of Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman. Kisses are the unifying theme, with each story offering a different sort of locking lips, from giddy seduction to harsh power play. In “Goblin Fruit,” misfit Kizzy meets a fascinating new student, an unbelievably gorgeous young man who ignores the popular girls to seek her out. Taylor tantalizingly foreshadows the ambiguous ending, teasing and enticing the reader much as Jack Husk entices Kizzy. “Spicy Little Curses Such as These” is set in India and offers intriguing and culturally respectful glimpses of both Indian religion and British colonialism. “Hatchling” reveals a fully- realized world of sometimes malevolent immortals who steal and raise human babies as their pets. Present-day teen sensibilities blend with artful allusions to mythology and magic, pulling the reader into rich fantasy realms. The cover’s close-up of a lovely woman’s red lips, with red-orange flames licking at the super-imposed title, lacks the powerful, delicately structured, and subtle poetry of Taylor’s stories. But Di Bartolo, Taylor’s husband, provides skillfully detailed pen-and-ink illustrations that are a fine match for the lyrical, romantic text."

— Debbie Carton

Congrats Laini (and LIPS TOUCH!! (well, OK, and to me too) That makes TWO starred reviews so far!!

So in honor of the comparison (or "honour" as Mr. Gaiman might write) this morning I read Clementine one of Mr. Gaiman's more age-appropriate books. Plus it's a great early introduction to the amazing work of Dave McKean for her!! You can see that she enjoyed it! (Now I'll need to see if Mr. de Lint also has picture books, or if she'll need to wait until she's older to delve into his creations).

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Messin' about with art

I'm working on some projects I can't show here for a while, but here are a couple of non-project-related cartoony portraits I screwed around with for fun recently. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 21, 2009

LIPS TOUCH starred review in Publisher's Weekly and book trailer!

From Publisher's Weekly today:

Lips Touch: Three Times Laini Taylor, illus. by Jim Di Bartolo. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-05585-7
Taylor offers a powerful trio of tales, each founded upon the consequences of a kiss. She explores the potentially awkward conceit in three dramatically different fantasies, each featuring a young female protagonist out of place in the world she inhabits: contemporary Kizzy, who so yearns to be a normal, popular teenager that she forgets the rules of her Old Country upbringing and is seduced by a goblin in disguise; Anamique, living in British colonial India, silenced forever due to a spell cast upon her at birth; and Esmé, who at 14 discovers she is host to another—nonhuman—being. The stories build in complexity and intensity, culminating in the breathtaking “Hatchling,” which opens with a spectacularly gripping prologue (“Esmé swayed on her feet. These weren't her memories. This wasn't her eye”). Each is, in vividly distinctive fashion, a mesmerizing love story that comes to a satisfying but never predictable conclusion. Di Bartolo's illustrations provide tantalizing visual preludes to each tale, which are revealed as the stories unfold. Even nonfantasy lovers will find themselves absorbed by Taylor's masterful, elegant work.

WOW! Thanks Publisher's Weekly! (And congrats Laini for the glowing comments on your writing!) More reviews are pending and I'll try to remember to post them here. Also, here's some of the interior art from the book:

And a trailer for the book that the Marketing people at Scholastic put together! How cool of them to do this?!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A bit more...

A larger clipping excerpted from the (larger) final piece:

Monday, August 31, 2009

An angry me with a mustache...

...(and thicker hair) from the White Wolf pieces I'm finishing up today:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Art snippit & baby pic

An in-progress art-snippit from the new White Wolf job I'm doing. I'll post more later on.


...a pic of our new addition to the family! Clementine Pie Di Bartolo! We're crazy about her!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby girl!

Name, details, and more pics to come soon!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sketch & paint

I would LOVE to illustrate a book or comic book in this style someday. TOO much fun watercoloring off of quick loose sketches like this!

Friday, July 31, 2009


As our due date gets closer, we've been going to the midwife's office every week for brief check-ups which leaves us with some waiting-room time. Instead of reading while we wait I've been sketchbooking. Above are some quick sketches from yesterday and a drawing I did from a photo of a friend a couple days ago.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Old piece new again

I just bought a SCSI to Firewire adapter for my OOOOoooooOOOOOooold (but large-format & awesome!) scanner so I could at last get rid of my even OLDER blue & white G3 Mac and hook the scanner directly to my newer-ish computer. The whole hook-up not only worked, but it was about 10 thousand time easier than I thought it would be. It was just a matter of connecting the two with the Firewire cable, installing VueScan software that I bought on their site and POW!. Should have done it years ago!

Anyhow, to test-scan something I grabbed an old oil painting that I did for THE DROWNED years ago and scanned in a portion of it. It was a piece that I liked certain parts of, but never got it to look just right. I was looking at it earlier and started messing with it in Photoshop over coffee this morning and like it a bit more now. It's still NOT fit for publication in this state or anything, but I do like it enough to slap it up here.

Lastly, today should be the final day of our 100+ degree heat wave -- relief is in sight!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book sketch and J.I.G.T.R.T.D.H.F.

This was the drawing I did in the inside front cover of an ARC of Laini's upcoming DREAMDARK novel "Silksinger" for the winner of the online benefit auction for our friend Bridget Zinn. The organizers of this particular event have done amazing work in helping Bridget with her medical costs. What awesome people to have organized something like that. I'm humbled to have been able to help even just a little.

And lastly, today is the last day before "J.I.G.T.R.T.D.H.F." (or, more long-windedly: "Jim is going to refinish the downstairs hardwood floors"). I'll try to remember to take some pics as it all happens. Wish me luck internet!

Monday, June 29, 2009

What's this? A post?

So I've been a bad blogger of late, and I'm going to try and be better, but we'll see how impending fatherhood (WOOHOO!) treats me and my hit-or-miss blogging habits. Since giving this interview to the so very nice Shelli Wells earlier this month, I've been trying to kick myself into gear in regards to blogging. I mean, I kind of made a pledge there to the Blog-gods, and I don't need their vengeful ways hunting me down, so here we go.

Before I get into what I've been up to, I should note that the above painting is the kind of stuff I'm going to try and do a bit more of as a warm-up (**EDIT: I should correct that and call it an "exercise" or "practice piece" rather than a warm-up. While this didn't take me hours and hours or anything, it didn't fly off in a few minutes either**), and also to keep my traditional-media chops intact. There's definitely a different sort of "reward" feeling (for me at least) in doing a piece completely by hand instead of with digital aid. So anyhow, I'll be trying to do more of this kind of piece for myself and my blog in the coming weeks.

As for what I've been up to, Laini and I had the AMAZING honor of attending the annual BEA (Book Expo America) convention in New York late last month to promote some buzz for our upcoming book with Arthur A. Levine Books (a division of Scholastic) entitled LIPS TOUCH: Three Times. Here we are with (the too nice to be real!) Arthur Levine himself in the Scholastic booth with my cover illuminated (which was a thrill to see!)

We had a fantastic time visiting the offices of Penguin/Putnam, Scholastic, Scholastic Educational, and Simon and Schuster. It was really a day the likes of which I'd dreamed of earlier in my career and almost had to pinch myself as we went from place to place meeting everyone involved with various projects that I've been a part of both with Laini and on my own. Here are a few pics from those visits and NY in general:

and last but certainly not least, a pic of me with my mother, sister, and 2 (beautiful!) nieces when we were visiting them in CA (thanks for dog-sitting Mama! xoxo:)

Now if the small house-remodeling that we're having done (and me re-finishing our hardwood floors later this week! Woohoo!) doesn't distract and absorb all of my time, I'll be posting once again very soon.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book covers and a website update

A snapshot of some of the book covers I've done for various publishers. LIPS TOUCH, The DRAGON'S PEARL, and SILKSINGER are all advance reader's copies (ARCs) and therefore in paperback form for now. Once I get hardcovers in the coming months as their release dates approach I'll probably put pics of them up as well.

Also, I did a small website update and plan to do a much larger one in the coming months once I'm given the OK by the publishers to show more of my recent work.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LIPS TOUCH cover artwork

I won't be able to show the interior artwork until the book sees publication (October 1st), but here's the cover. For a great, more in-depth post about the creation of the book, check out Laini's blog entry here. We are very excited about 2009 for many reasons and this book being released is among the the top things we're feeling lucky and proud about. Collaborating on an illustrated novel has been something we've dreamed about since we were dating in art school. Thank you to Arthur Levine for helping us see this through and for pushing us to think about an illustrated book in new and unique ways.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Art catch-up (a little at least) and Project Book Babe

Here are some recent cropped portions of art for a couple different projects that I've been working on. The two fantasy clippings are from Laini's upcoming Penguin/Putnam DREAMDARK sequel out in September entitled "DREAMDARK: SILKSINGER" (the cover to which is over in my side blog column). The pencils are from an upcoming (creepy!) project for Scholastic's educational department. More on this project as it (quickly!) progresses.

And lastly, here is an ink sketch I did for a donated ARC of Laini's and my upcoming illustrated teen novel (published by Arthur A. Levine Books) entitled LIPS TOUCH. This ARC -- as well as a sketched-in copy of the first DREAMDARK harcover and a SILKSINGER (ARC) -- is all going to be auctioned off for the "Project Book Babe" fundraiser that Laini and a BUNCH of other talented authors contributed to (the main event of which happened last weekend, but the auctioned items will be available over the coming week or more). It was a HUGELY successful event for a great cause. Cheers to all those involved and (of course!) to Faith, for whom this event was created to benefit.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dave McKean interview

(*image borrowed from the 7-Imp blog interview*)
I was flattered to be asked by Jules of the AMAZING blog "Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast" to give a hand in her interview with one of my all-time favorite artists, Dave McKean. Make no mistake, I contributed at most .0025% of the overall work involved, while Jules and Eisha (also of the aforementioned blog) did the rest along with an assist by Farida Dowler. It's an amazing interview that's both inspiring and laugh-out-loud funny at times and it's PACKED with a TON of Mr. McKean's art. This guy is creative down to the bone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


...Stephanie, for the cool superhero generator link!

After choosing different features and colors from the plethora of choices, it creates the finished version and adds a name to your creation. This is what mine looked like when I was done:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dreamdark SILKSINGER cover!

We just got the OK to unveil the cover (art by me!) for Laini's upcoming novel DREAMDARK: SILKSINGER. Due out in September. This is, of course, the sequel to her first novel DREAMDARK: BLACKBRINGER, both from G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Publishing.

Both books are unbelievably great!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Painting away and discovering Faunts and White Flight

It's been a while, but I've been busy and I LOVE it! Since I can't show you what I've been working on, I can at least show you (along with some blurred-out-art areas) my work space:

By the way, that drafting table has been THE BEST purchase I've made in a long time. My old table was about 3 feet wide, and while it served me very well over the years, this "new" one has been incredible. I say "new" because I got it off of Craig's List in the early Fall for $100! I'd been keeping an eye out for a while for just this kind of table and after seeing them pop up and then disappear within hours I POUNCED on this one when it showed up online. It's an architecture table with drawers and it's as sturdy as hell! I was tired of my old table squeaking and getting semi-wobbly if I didn't tighten it every couple of days and this new one is solid enough to climb up on and take a nap. And once I got it home and realized that my old chair wasn't high enough, what did I do you might ask? I jumped back on Craig's List and within a couple of days I found a used (nice!) drafting chair for $10 that was missing some screws. One stop off at the mom & pop hardware store on the way home and it was as good as new. Anyhow, enough pitching for Craig's List. It was actually kind of fun at first, working without the chair and drawing standing up (but it got old pretty fast leaning over the table). I've already posted this a while back, but here's one of the pieces once again that I did on my feet & hunched over:

Now on to music. I'm an eMusic monthly subscriber (LOVE. IT.) and I had some credit that was itching to get used this past week. At first I wanted to find a few songs from some obscure bands (to me at least) that were in the "My Bloody Valentine" realm. Someone I'm working with had mentioned his enjoyment of that band and I've been wanting to make a mix for him, but I ended up LOVING a few of the bands myself. For today I'll only mention Faunts and White Flight, and while I'd never seen their videos before, I thought these were pretty good. It's funny because as a child of the '80's, I TOTALLY got into music videos growing up, but since I haven't had cable TV in over 10 years I sometimes forget that there are still videos being made. Anyhow, if you're interested, here're the Faunts with their video to the song M4-Part II. (Crabs at war? Strangely sad) :

And here's White Flight with the song Pastora Divine:

And because this video is just a bit too fun and cool NOT to show, here's another one (it takes a minute for the song to start, but it's a little too much cheesy goodness to look away in the meantime. I think so at least) :