2015 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist: Reviewing J Dillon

Julie Dillon

After going to Julie Dillon’s website I realized I have stumbled across her art a number of times before. For this review I’m going to focus on works created in 2014 which include some that I have enjoyed in the past and am happy to highlight why I enjoyed them now that I have a chance to write more formally on the topic.

There were fourteen pictures marked 2014 in her portfolio. I will restrain myself and not check to see if it was 13 in 2013, etc. She does an excellent job of dynamically framing her subjects and I can easily see cover art or illustrations for books and magazines. What she is communicating is clear and eye catching.

Beneath the Surface is one of her pieces that I had found before. This is not surprising given my Lovecraftian leanings and wandering internet searches on sea monsters. What struck me then and continues to strike me about this image is the way she catches the emotion of being afraid of the infinite deep. When out on the ocean it really does feel like all the large and terrible things are crowded up against the calm surface and that breaking the fine line between atmosphere and sea could result in being overwhelmed by the things that wait below. Well played those archetypes, well played.

Last Stand must be linked to because it strikes on such a core fantasy moment. Here is our hero, Eowyn, at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, taking up the sword to defend the king. In many ways the androgyny of the figure just adds to the power of the image as so many stories can map to it. I see Eowyn (admittedly not a redhead), someone else might see a young knight defending his king, a queen her lover. The back story of the character both dwindles and flexes within the importance of this one moment.

Doorways gives a wonderful sense of gravity both in face and environment. It makes me want to write a story to go with this image.

Taking Flight touches on my best memories of discovering Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books as a tween. The vibrancy and color of both this image and the cover art from those books harken back to Richard Scary’s Busy Town books. It is the color of imagination.

Scholar’s Tower sinks into the comfy chair of “my ideal library” daydreams so inherent to book lovers.

And finally, there’s Sun Shepherdess which balances that beautiful line of history, fantasy, and science fiction. It is visually on par with Andre Norton’s Dare to Go A-Hunting books. It reaches back in time to the tales told at camp fires and forward in time to the potential of the stars populated by such human humans as to give hope. It is a tapestry and a map and really my favorite of her works.

Julie Dillon is definitely on my likely list for Best Professional Artist.

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