Illustrator John Howe reflects on new Lord of the Rings project

This content was published on August 8, 2020 - 08:00
Tania Buri, Keystone-ATS

Canadian illustrator John Howe, who drew the universe for the Lord of the Rings movies, lives and works in Switzerland. Lately, he has been working on a new Lord of the Rings series for the Amazon Prime streaming service. 

Howe says that illustration offers him great versatility - he has worked on books, films, design, graphics, posters, architectural and urban planning projects over the course of his career. Cinematic projects in particular, he says, allow him to develop mental agility and transversal thinking.

"Things that are unknown are the most interesting," he says of his work. "They are full of decisions to be made, challenges that have to be mastered."

Howe has been fascinated by J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of Lord of the Rings, since he was 14 years old. 

"He is one of those authors whose visual evocation is extremely strong: what he describes triggers visions," says the illustrator.

"Heroic fantasy, when written well, answers questions every generation is asking."

Amazon Prime bought the rights to Lord of the Rings in 2017. Although the Covid-19 pandemic halted production in New Zealand for a time, the streaming service has not announced any change to its plans to release the series based on the tales by Tolkien sometime next year. 

Adapted from French by Veronica DeVore and Michele Andina, swissinfo.ch

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