the Little Red Reviewer

Julie Dillon’s Imagined Realms: Book 1

Posted on: July 29, 2014

julie dillon taking flight cropped

“Taking Flight”

Wanna hear this month’s best news? Of course you do!

One of my favorite artists, Julie Dillon, is making an artbook! Her Kickstarter for Imagined Realms: Book 1 was fully funded during it’s first week! It contains 10 all new pieces of fantasy artwork!

ok, that’s three really good pieces of news.  Also, you should totally head over to her Kickstarter page, and if you like what you see, put your  money where your mouth is and get yourself a copy of her book (and one of the print packs!).  If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about this.  I’ve been seeing Julie’s artwork here and there for a few years now, and it was always her images that pulled me in, asked me to trace the outlines, to triangulate where the person would be next so I could meet them there, to find something new in the piece every time I looked at it. Her artwork is full of movement and colors that stretch the spectrum, and characters that are yearning, reaching, and guiding. An opportunity to have some of her artwork in my home? To financially support her venture to create more of these visual anthems? Shut up and take my money.

Julie was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Imagined Realms Book 1, and that there is so much more going on here than just a kickstarter about selling some artbooks.  Artwork can be and is so much more than just a cover on your book, frame on your wall, or a desktop background on your computer.  Let’s get to the discussion, shall we?

"Sun Shepherdess"

“Sun Shepherdess”

LRR: As I’m writing these interview questions, your Kickstarter has crashed through it’s first stretch goal of $20,000.  What made you decide to go the Kickstarter route for Imagined Realms, and do you have any advice for people looking to Kickstart a project?
J.D.: Originally I was going to attempt to do it without the Kickstarter, and just take a chance with printing up a bunch of books and putting them up for sale. But that got progressively more cost prohibitive and risky, since I didn’t know how many books to get or how many people would want them. A kickstarter started to make more sense in terms of getting funding together. Plus, a Kickstarter campaign would let me gauge how much actual interest there was. I could print as many books as were ordered, rather than making a guess and hoping I didn’t print too many or too few. That said, setting up and running a Kickstarter has been a lot of work in itself, more than I’d even anticipated. I find myself just wishing it was done already so I could get on with things.


My main piece of advice is that you really need to have a marketing and publicity plan. In my case, I have a modest following, and friends and industry connections who were able to help me out by spreading the word. I also got lucky getting features on major websites like,, and Some people have even bigger followings and do exceedingly well, and others don’t have enough of a reach yet and have a hard time gaining traction. Make sure you have a product people actually want, and a way to reach people who might want to buy it.


"Scholars' Tower"

“Scholars’ Tower”

LRR: There is a LOT of artwork in this new book. How long did it take you to create it all?


 J.D.: It took both longer and less time than I anticipated at various stages. When I started out in January, I didn’t know if I’d be able to finish within a year, but once I got to work I realized I could probably get it done in a few months. I had hopes for launching in May, but various other projects and trips and life stuff popped up, and it ended up being pushed back until July. I feel was a good decision overall, especially since this is my first time doing this and I’ve spent a lot of time just trying to figure out logistics and how exactly to focus and present the project. I’m hoping things will be smoother on future book projects, and I can spend my time working on the art instead of worrying so much over learning all these new things like making videos and book layout and the ins and outs of printing. I know the next book will still be a challenge, but at least I’ll have some experience under my belt by then. .





LRR: something that really caught my eye on your kickstarter page was this passage:
All the artwork will be available to license for use as cover art by independent authors and small publishers. With each book I produce, I’ll be creating a larger library of available art for other creators to license for use, at a fraction of the cost of commissioning a custom piece.

As with much of the artwork you produce, the pieces for Imagined Realms feature diverse and empowered women.  So talk to me about the importance of authors and small press publishers having easier access to artwork of this type.


J.D.:  There are several magazines and small publishers that all regularly require artwork for various publications. And when the publication is a collection of stories, like magazines or anthologies, there is more flexibility in the types of art they can use on the cover because the art doesn’t have to represent a specific story. In cases like those, the art doesn’t necessarily have to specifically match one singular story or character, and thus publishers have more leeway in what they choose. So, why not have art available to them that lets different types of people be showcased? I realize some of my pieces are probably too specific to function as covers, but I try to make many of them have a more open narrative with broad appeal that could be used in different ways and fit more than one type of project. Three of the pieces in “Imagined Realms : Book 1” have already been licensed by different magazines. If there’s more art available for publishers that features diverse, non-objectified women, there’s more of a chance that that artwork can be seen by more people in a professional context. It’s not much, but every little bit helps. Bit by bit it might help show  other publishers and readers that different kinds of art can be viable options for book covers.
LRR: Thanks so much Julie!  I know this next picture isn’t in Imagined Realms, but it’s been a favorite of mine for a while now.  This was used as the cover for the Subterannean Press special edition of Catherynne Valente’s Silently and Very Fast, and  just can’t get enough of it. You see see Julie’s entire gallery of artwork at her DeviantArt page.

"Artificial Dream"

“Artificial Dream”

5 Responses to "Julie Dillon’s Imagined Realms: Book 1"

Wonderful stuff. I’ve spent the last few days poring over the kickstarter, and I jumped on board, yesterday. As a side, purely business-like comment, I really appreciated the different options that she made available.


from a business point of view, same here. And also like you, I thought about it for a few days before investing. And what did those few days do to my thinking process? As it happened, I ended up investing a little more than I had originally planned, primarily because I *really* wanted the items made available at just one small level higher.


She is SO talented. I love the covers she has done for Apex!


Thanks for the reminder! Headed over to take advantage of the Kickstarter right now.


Love her art ❤


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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