A Modern Master
If there is one word I could use to describe Donato Giancola's art, it would have to be exuberant. Donato is what is sometimes referred to as an 'artist's artist', a master draftsman capable of creating a seemingly endless number of exquisitely researched, delicately rendered, but powerfully vivid visions of imaginary and real people, creatures, scenes and places.
He is among the most accomplished illustrators in the industry, to me, and his varied images show a keen and seemingly inexhaustible curiosity and delight in compositional and image possibilities within the perimeters of his signature high realism style. I know the excitement that drives him.
There are many artists who excel in a particular realm, but who shy away from confronting technical challenges outside their zone of comfort, such that their work becomes relatively limited and predictable. With Donato, you have a man who makes it his business to be accomplished in many disciplines; superb human and animal anatomy, drapery and costume, otherworldly and terrestrial architecture in abundance, full command of perspective, landscape, macro and micro forms, dynamic composition, extraordinarily mature colour skill, inventiveness, and all with superb attention to detail and tonal dynamics. His art is exactingly and lovingly rendered with consummate skill, yet the end result is typically relaxed and very pleasant to the eye; no easy feat. While displaying these various disciplines within the picture frame, he skillfully integrates them into a harmonious whole, a key area of accomplishment for any of us, especially as we manipulate images to our client's requirements very often. As a fellow fantasy artist, I particularly enjoy his forays into the fantastic (and recognize in him a formidable competitor!) but he is just as likely to immerse himself in history, conventional fiction, poetry, science fiction, and many other realms.
Doubtless the most striking aspect of Donato's artwork is the impression that he stepped out of an 18th century French or Italian atelier, of course. His is a rare gift for bringing a look and a multi-disciplinary mastery which has nearly disappeared in our era into full, glorious new life, and applying it to a wide range of illustrative projects. Ever since he began creating his legacy, he has been raising the art of illustration to heights it rarely achieves in our over hasty, disposable modern world. Long may he delight us.
Concept designer, artist, musician
Creating a visual interpretation of an author's words is always a slippery slope and when that writer is J.R. R. Tolkien the task is infinitely more difficult. Tolkien is an exquisite word smith, who's descriptive passages paint such wonderful images in the reader's mind that many feel they are transporting themselves out of our mundane world to the wonders of Middle Earth. When I first became a fan of Tolkien's books there were no published artworks available to the public other then the allegorical cover paintings. That all changed when the Hildebrandt brothers' amazing calendars hit the bookstores and sold out. Since then there have been a number of artists to interpret Tolkien's fantastic words into tangible visions and I have been fortunate to be among an incredible collection of talented masters. There are many names to celebrate like, Alan Lee, John Howe, Ted Nasmith, Mike Kaluta, Pauline Baynes, Michael Hague and that brings me to Donato Giancola.
Donato first came to my attention when I met him at a comic convention in New York City, when he was just entering the illustration field. He was a young man then and he gave me a printed sample of his work. I was so impressed with it I held onto it knowing that Donato would be making a very powerful artistic statement in the future. Little did I realize that his artistic vision would surpass my concept for what a painting could embody. Donato's talent is unsurpassed, and I don't say that lightly. As a fellow artist I find his mastery of painting and the figure to be sublime. His range of subject matter and the evocative images he renders are truly inspiring, which brings me to his Tolkien works.
Tolkien's words are very precise and that is why when we humble artists attempt to put flesh on them they often bear a resemblance to other artistic interpretations. Gandalf will always have a tall pointed blue hat and be wearing gray robes and tall black boots, as per the Hobbit. So the dilemma, for an artist interpreting Tolkien, is that they must translate the images faithfully to the text and then add something of themselves to make their images unique and different. Donato's Tolkien work embodies this artistic construct perfectly. I give as an example, The Hobbit graphic novel cover that he painted for the edition that came out to coincide with the first LOTR movie. When I saw the cover's collection of dwarves I thought, here's an artist who has really added to the Tolkien text. Each dwarf was painted brilliantly, of course, but what struck me were the details. The tattooing, hair braiding and the jewelry he painted on each dwarf gave them a unique and distinctive presence that went beyond the written words. Each of Donato's Tolkien works embodies aspects of this same attention to translation and detail. It is not an easy task as there are now so many Tolkien related images it is difficult for an artist to come up with something unique and fresh, and Donato transcends the task. Artists like Donato set the bar for the rest of us. His skill, his work ethic and ability to interpret the written word are inspirational. If you are not familiar with Donato's Tolkien paintings hold on because you are in for a visual ride that celebrates the melding of epic story telling with painting virtuosity.
artist, illustrator, storyteller