An interview with Roger Garland for the Council of Elrond
1. When did you first read Tolkien and what scenes have particularlyinspired you?
I first read Tolkien in the 60’s when I was an Art student. No particularscenes inspired me but I found the whole of Tolkien’s world inspirational.
2. Which is your favourite of Tolkien’s books and why?Lord of the Ring’s would be my favourite book for its scale and vision. Howeverthere are great images within The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales andThe Book of Lost Tales. I love Farmer Giles of Ham for Tolkien’sobservation of rural life and humour.
3. What are your artistic influences, especially in relation to yourTolkien art?My main influences as an illustrator would be the pre-Raphaelites, andFrench Symbolist painters, many painted scenes from mythologies andlegends. . Living in Cornwall near Tintagel the seat of King Arthur andthe whole region steeped in mythology also fires my imagination.
4. What do you think it is about Tolkien’s works that makes so many artistswant to draw scenes from them?I think many artists are attracted to Tolkien as a source of inspiration ashe creates such a visual world within the reader’s mind.
5. As I’m sure you gathered, my favourite of all your middle earth art isthe Earendil and Elwing painting. Which of your pieces is your favourite andwhy?I have one or two I am particularly proud of, The Lord of The Nazgul, TheBattle of the Pelennor Fields, and The Last Journey of Boromir. I ampleased to have illustrated Tolkien’s world before the films as I am surefrom now on everyone will be influenced by Peter Jacksons interpretation.
6. I am aware your artwork has been used for Tolkien calendars and bookcovers and you have also illustrated “Farmer Giles of Ham”, “Smith of WoottonMajor” and “The adventures of Tom Bombadil”, has your art been used foranything else, such as collectable cards or Tolkien art books?My wife, Linda who is a professional painter had several of herillustrations published in The Tolkien Bestery. We set up our publishingcompany and art galleries during the 80’s and publish many art cards andlimited edition prints of our artwork including images from our TolkienCollection. I have created forty oil paintings and many black and whitedrawings and etchings for the original publishers Allen and Unwin which wehave retained and which forms a permanent exhibition at our LakesideGallery, Lezant.
7. Can you tell me a little about the process of your art, from idea tofinal piece?From thumbnail sketches I create full size detailed drawings, which aremainly drawn from my imagination. I may find photographs of landscapeswhich I use as inspiration but never copy I basically use them to create anatmosphere. The drawings would then be sent to Christopher Tolkien for hisapproval and comments once given the “go ahead” I would proceed to producethe final artwork in oils.
8. Are there any of your pictures you would like to comment onspecifically, for instance the reason you drew it the way you did?The image of Old Man Willow I created from my childhood memories of livingon the Somerset Levels.
9. Which of your images did you find the hardest to draw?I must admit most of my Tolkien work just flowed. It was getting to thestage as an illustrator where I could do justice on paper what I could seein my head, that was the struggle, learning the skills meant many years ofpractice and observing how the Old Masters went about composition etc.
10. Did you enjoy the films?Yes.
11. And of course the most important question. When can we expect anyfurther Tolkien art from you and can you tell us anything about what youare planning?I regret, I have moved on from illustration and now paint for myself. I amworking on Italian landscapes, inspired by touring holidays yet they stillhave the “Other Worldly” escapism I guess one of my trademarks.Carried out and edited by k for www.councilofelrond.com – do not use without permissionBack to the Artists of Middle-Earth Index