John Howe - Tolkien Art

Gandalf and the Balrog - art by John Howe
Gandalf and the Balrog - art by John Howe
Map of Middle-Earth - art by John Howe
Map of Middle-Earth - art by John Howe

John Howe was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1957 and is best known for his artwork on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories.

Interested in art as a child Howe would buy books for their cover art – “I collected paperbacks for the covers, and even read what was inside. Frank Frazetta assumed demigod status, and was the object of dozens of copies in oil pastel. This was before the Ballantine editions, so his paintings were only available on book covers. No musty second-hand paperback pile went unturned.” An excerpt from the book - John Howe - Myth and Magic published by HarperCollins.

Howe read The Lord of the Rings as a youth and was inspired into illustrating Middle-Earth when he saw Tolkien calendars by the Brothers Hildebrandt.

He has also illustrated Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-Earth and Unfinished Tales. In 1999 he published a portfolio titled - Images of Middle-Earth (HarperCollins).

Gandalf - art by John Howe
Gandalf - art by John Howe
Frodo defies the Nazgul at the Ford of Bruinen - art by John Howe
Frodo defies the Nazgul at the Ford of Bruinen - art by John Howe
Eowyn and the Nazgul - art by John Howe
Eowyn and the Nazgul - art by John Howe
Gandalf comes to Hobbiton - art by John Howe
Gandalf comes to Hobbiton - art by John Howe

Along with fellow artist Alan Lee, Howe worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) as conceptual designer.

He also worked on the movies King Kong (2005) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).

Howe is now working on Peter Jackson’s three upcoming Hobbit movies - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (2014).

Howe has illustrated many other books including a limited edition of A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin and books on myths and legends such as Beowulf. He has created covers for many of Robin Hobb’s fantasy novels.

He currently lives in Switzerland with his wife and son.

Sam and Shelob - art by John Howe
Sam and Shelob - art by John Howe
The Black Rider - art by John Howe
The Black Rider - art by John Howe
In Mordor - art by John Howe
In Mordor - art by John Howe
Minas Morgul - art by John Howe
Minas Morgul - art by John Howe
Smaug over Esgaroth - art by John Howe
Smaug over Esgaroth - art by John Howe
The Dark Tower - art by John Howe
The Dark Tower - art by John Howe
The War of the Ring - art by John Howe
The War of the Ring - art by John Howe
The Great Goblin - art by John Howe
The Great Goblin - art by John Howe
Smaug the Golden - Art by John Howe
Smaug the Golden - Art by John Howe
An Unexpected Party - art by John Howe
An Unexpected Party - art by John Howe

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10 comments

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

I find your artist hubs very interesting and educational. John Howe is yet another artist you picked that I was completely unaware of, but now I aware and appreciate his work. This hub got me to check my deluxe Lord of the Rings versions to see if he was one of the people that did a commentary. It looks like Peter Jackson picked an awesome artist to help him create the L.O.R. trilogy and I am sure their next two Hobbit movies will be outstanding as well. My favorite picture you posted would have to be "Minas Morgul" great detail. Voted up and awesome and interesting.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Bruce, your comments are always appreciated. My art hubs have been constantly popular, especially on Google.

My Alan Lee hub has added another 300 hits in the past few weeks. Lee and Howe worked with Jackson on the Lord of the Ring films, Jackson was a fan of their artwork and called them up, now they're working with him again on the Hobbit films.

Flora saw the spider Shelob and quickly leapt out of this hub, I think she wants me to step on it but it's too big Flora dear, and one of the best pictures on here. Just think of it as a vicious monster with 8 legs, better? :)

Minas Morgul is a great picture Bruce. My favourite? um The Dark Tower would look great on my wall, I also like Gandalf vs the Balrog.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

I was trying to decide between the Dark Tower and Minas Morgul as I liked both too.....I have a friend that I have not talked to much lately....that I sent him this link...as he is a huge art fan....and this hub as well as your others are things he will really enjoy.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Cheers Bruce, your friend will probably have heard of Lee and Howe if he's a big art fan. Unless he's into the old masters. ;)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Excellent hub Steve. John Howe uses texts as his inspiration, does he ever do any original work of his own - I know these are original, I just mean art not linked to texts? I can't wait to see what his Hobbit artwork will be like. You can understand why Peter Jackson keeps using him for his movies. 300 hits on Google is going some...wish I had your skills! Voted up, etc.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Jools, appreciate the comment. I've had a look at his home page and he has done some sketch work not connected to books or stories but even those were in the fantasy genre. So many artists seem to love painting castles and dragons and wizards. It's a very heroic and romantic genre and it can get very dark too. While science fiction art is a little colder and more precise.

My most viewed hub artist is Chris Foss, who specialised in sci-fi book covers, he must have painted more spaceships than any other person on this planet. I bought his latest book and it is crammed with gorgeous artwork of planets, aliens and of course spaceships.

Google picks up these hubs very quickly, John Howe Tolkien Art is already on the first page, but how many people type john howe tolkien into the search engine? ;)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Amazing artwork. I like the pictures you chose. I've always enjoyed middle earth art. John Howe was amazingly talented.

Thanks for the look at Howe's work,

Rob


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Rob, appreciate your comment. John Howe is great, Alan Lee too, Their artwork really captures the look of the stories.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 4 years ago from Tampa Bay

Nice to see a hub about John Howe here at HP. I love his work and his ability to take us to these amazing places. I love the images you've chosen, especially the painting of Gandalf. I'm looking forward to seeing The Hobbit.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks rebekah. I'm looking forward to The Hobbit too. That Gandalf painting was on the cover of a special one volume anniversary edition of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

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