Book Art for Your Valentine and Your Budget

Alison Morris -- February 2nd, 2009

If your book-loving Valentine’s walls are barren, consider giving them the gift of book illustrations this year. What follows are online galleries that sell original pieces of children’s book art and/or affordable prints, so you can (hopefully) find a piece of art that both announces your affection and fits within your budget.

While I didn’t see any prints available on their site, I couldn’t resist starting this post with Images of Delight, who sells original works of art by a number of British illustrators including Charlotte Voake, Polly Dunbar, and Chris Riddell. I’m featuring them first, because I think the Polly Dunbar image above would make the perfect gift for some Valentine out there. Possibly yours? Or you, yourself? (Who says you can’t be your own Valentine?)

Who couldn’t feel the love in the illustration by Anita Jeram, below, called "Noses." It’s one of hundreds of original pieces available from Storyopolis, in Sherman Oaks, California, which sells original pieces or lithographs by John Burningham, Jim LaMarche, Lynn Munsinger, Mark Teague, Chris Raschka, Marjorie Priceman, and Bagram Ibatouilline, to name just a few.

Readers Down Under (or those not averse to paying overseas shipping costs) can order giclée prints from Books Illustrated in Australia (note that the prices on the site are in Australian dollars but they’ll happily take your American money as payment). Choose from images by Graeme Base, Alison Lester, and many more illustrators including (sigh) Shaun Tan. I’d like to give my Valentine this print, below, from The Red Tree, for obvious reasons, but I’m tempted by hmmm… ALL the others as well.

Not to torture you with what you’ve missed, but aren’t you sorry you weren’t in attendance at Books Illustrated’s "All the Wild Wonders: Weeny Works by Wicked Illustrators" exhibit last year? I would have loved to have seen all these charming, miniature illustrations by talented folks like, oh, Bob Graham who contributed this tiny piece called "How to Heal a Broken Wing."

If you REALLY want to treat your Valentine right, maybe you could whisk him or her off to Paris and let them choose their own piece, in person, from the Jeanne Robillard Gallerie. A less posh (though still pricey) option would be purchasing an original work of art from their website, which features a number of French illustrators, some of whom you might recognize but many of which you probably won’t because their books have not (so far) been published here. This does not make their art any less striking, of course. Look how the shadows tell a story in this wonderful Isabelle Chatellard piece, which now has a place on my original art wish list:

Of course, closer to home for many of us is the Elizabeth Stone Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, which is home to illustrations from talented people like Erik Blegvad, Elisa Kleven, James Ransome, and Lynn Munsinger, whose "Grandmas Teach You How to Dance" would make an especially nice gift for book-loving/dance-loving/mouse-loving grandmothers.

Grandfathers, on the other hand, might be charmed by this illustration from Scott Nash, of Grandpa wearing a red union suit. It’s just one of the many fun pieces available from, which also represents work by Peter Reynolds, Douglas Florian, and Marjorie Priceman, to name just a few.

The always generous Grace Lin is currently giving a substantial boost to the coffers of one of my favorite local organizations, The Foundation for Children’s Books, through a monthly event/fundraiser called "Small Graces." Each month in 2009, an unpublished, original painting by Grace is being auctioned off on eBay, with 100% of the proceeds to benefit FCB. The auction for Grace’s February painting (see below) is scheduled to start next week!

If you fail to win one of Grace’s pieces this way, you can also purchase one from the Child at Heart Gallery, which also carries original art and prints by Trina Schart Hyman, Matt Tavares, Mary Newell DePalma, David McPhail, and many more folks.

As anyone in Western Massachusetts knows, another FANTASTIC source of children’s book art is R. Michelson’s Galleries in Northampton, owned by author Richard Michelson, which are currently hosting their 19th Annual Children’s Illustration Show. The difficulty might be in deciding whether you’d like to own a piece of art by Mo Willems or Chris Raschka? Raul Colón or Jarrett Krosoczka? Tony DiTerlizzi or Mary Azarian or E.B. Lewis or Barry Moser or…? (The list of difficult decisions goes on and on.) As for me, I have a hard time just whittling down my favorite paintings by Mordicai Gerstein, never mind having to think about the rest. For a Valentine who loves stories, though, I think this one would make a fitting (and phenomenal) gift:

Finally, here’s one more art source suggestion. If your love is a lover of classic book illustrations, set aside a few hours in which to browse the extensive gallery at, which features illustrations scanned from the pages of classic books. Most are now available as affordable prints (an 8" x 10" costs $19), and there’s a relatively wide range of illustration styles represented on the site. Depending on your Valentine’s taste, he or she might go for one of William Heath Robinson’s illustrations for A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

or C.L. Hinton’s cover illustration for Under the Trees:

or maybe one of Heinrich Lefler’s illustrations for Die Prinzessen:

Of course if you can’t find art by one of your favorite illustrators at any of these or other online galleries, you can always check the illustrators’ own websites to see if they sell pieces there, or contact them to ask if/how they make their original works available. Many illustrators now sell work from their own site — sometimes even holiday-themed pieces or specially designed boxes of chocolates. Catia Chen, for example, sells both! (The print below is called "Valentine" and that’s a box of chocolates she designed, at right.)

Are there other galleries I’ve failed to mention here? If so, please tell me about ’em. And tell your Valentine to get crackin’ with the shopping, as February 14th will soon be here!

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