From J.R.R. Tolkiens’ ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to Botticellis’ ‘La Primivera’, Donato Giancola balances modern concepts with realism in his paintings to bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. His influences encompass visits to the local book stores and cinema as well as pilgrimages to the greatest of museums – including the Uffizzi, Louvre, and Hermitage. Donato recognizes the significant cultural role played by visual art and makes personal efforts to contribute to the expansion and appreciation of the science fiction and fantasy genre that extend beyond the commercial commissions of his clients. To those ends, the artist teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the Illustration Master Class in Amherst, Massachusetts and online through the SmArt School. Donato also and appears at various institutions, tournaments, and conventions, from San Diego to Rome to Moscow, where he performs demonstrations in oil paint and lectures on his aesthetics.
Born in 1967 and raised in Colchester, Vermont, USA, art was always a hobby for Donato, he would steal away into the basement of his parents’ home to work on drawings, create his own maps for games, paint figurines, read comics, and construct military models and dinosaurs. His love of imaginative play dominated his childhood, both indoors and out. At the age of twenty Donato enrolled in his first formal art class, the beginning of his professional training. After three years at Syracuse University and graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Painting in 1992, Donato moved to New York City to immerse himself in the inspired and varied art scene. Formative years in the early nineties were spent as the studio assistant to the preeminent figure painter Vincent Desiderio, and long days of study in the museums of New York. It was then that his love and appreciation of classical figurative art took hold. He continues his training even now, visiting museums regularly, learning from and sometimes copying original paintings by Rembrandt or Rubens, attending life drawing sessions with illustrator friends and constantly challenging himself within each new project. Pilgrimages to major museums are his preferred reason to travel.
Since beginning his professional career in 1993, Donato’s list of clients has grown to include major book publishers in New York to concept design firms on the West Coast: notables include The United Nations, LucasArts, National Geographic, Scientific American, CNN, DC Comics, Microsoft, The Village Voice, Playboy Magazine, US Postal Service, Wizards of the Coast , Scholastic, Simon&Schuster, Tor Books, Random House, Time/Warner, The SyFy Channel, Milton-Bradley, and Hasbro. Merits range from the Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators to nineteen Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, three Artist Hugo Awards for outstanding professional work from the World Science Fiction Society, notable awards from the Art Renewal Center, and six silver and three gold medals from the juried annual Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art.
He lives with his wife and two daughters in Brooklyn, New York.