Updated Edition of Tolkien's Bestseller Features 26 New Paintings
Ted Nasmith on U.S. Tour in October to Promote The Silmarillion
Revised and expanded to include twenty-six breathtaking new full-color paintings (forty-eight paintings in all) by renowned Tolkien artist Ted Nasmith, Houghton Mifflin's new illustrated edition of The Silmarillion is the most stunning ever published. Nasmith will visit several U.S. cities in October to discuss the new edition of this magnificent but underappreciated epic.
The Silmarillion tells the oldest tales of Middle-earth: of its creation and of the ancient histories of the Elves and the coming of Men into the world. It also chronicles the early battles between good and evil that foreshadow the great conflict in The Lord of the Rings. (The Lord of the Rings celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its original U.S. publication on October 21.)
Tolkien worked on The Silmarillion for most of his life, beginning it long before The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, and it was published posthumously in 1977 to international acclaim. With Christopher Tolkien's close collaboration, The Silmarillion has now been completely reset, using the text of the second edition.
Ted Nasmith is an internationally recognized illustrator, renowned for his photorealistic illustrations of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fiction. He was born in Goderich, Ontario, and upon graduating from art school was immediately hired by a studio specializing in architectural renderings. This became Nasmith's career focus while he produced a growing body of Tolkien-inspired illustrations, created out of his abiding love of the books, which he first encountered as a teenager and art student.
His ambition was to create what he saw as quasi-classical paintings for Tolkien's books based on his sense of the importance of the sweeping landscape vistas so eloquently and centrally featured in Tolkien's fantasy, as well as on the author's unique evocations of faeries.
The early 1970s saw the publication of many illustrated calendars, which coincided with Nasmith's ambition to have his work reach a wide audience someday, and this hope was fulfilled in the late eighties with his first published calendars. In 1990 his first full calendar was published, followed by others in quick succession, and in the mid-nineties his sketches for The Silmarillion were accepted for the first-ever illustrated edition of that great work of fantasy. He has continued to create many new Tolkien-inspired paintings, including a series of three calendars celebrating The Lord of the Rings, and this growing body of artwork has come to be appreciated as some of the finest of its kind.
Ted Nasmith is proud to offer readers a more lavish vision of the saga of The Silmarillion in a new, expanded illustrated edition.
A Conversation with Ted Nasmith
Were you exposed to art when you were young? Did you dream of becoming the artist you are today?
I was exposed to book illustrations and movies and TV when I was young, and I lived in France for three years as a toddler. I don't remember dreaming of being an artist in particular, but I was a dreamer! It was mostly upon entering high school that I was made aware of the obvious: that I was meant to draw professionally.
While studying art, what artistic medium were you drawn to? Is there a particular piece of advice that helped you the most?
I was drawn to painting in tempera mostly, and I had a natural gift for realism. As to advice, a key bit of it came later, from my first employer: Always give your clients a little more than they expect.
What influence did J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings have on you and your art?
Clearly Tolkien's Lord of the Rings had a major impact; it tends to grab you like no other work of fantasy. But if you want specifics, it steered me away from more commercial art, like automotive illustration and architectural rendering, and toward fantasy and a look based on my favorite fine artists of landscape and fairy tales.
What gave you the idea to have your Tolkien art published?
It was seeing the annual Tolkien calendars. Once I realized that they were publishing art by anyone who could reasonably expect to be published, it was my ambition to get my work into a calendar. After a few unsuccessful tries in the seventies and mid-eighties, I was contacted about meeting someone from Tolkien's publisher at Worldcon (Ottawa, 1985, I think) in order to assess my work. That led to its being included in the 1987 Tolkien Calendar.
How do your accomplishments measure up to your own objectives?
I feel I have developed my visions of Middle-earth to a high degree of sophistication, and I'm happy I've had as many opportunities to create that art as I have. I want to continue this as long as I can and my interest holds. There's a sense that the ideas will not run out anytime soon and that I've been fairly consistent in my interpretations over the years, so there's a continuity aspect I am careful about. I'm glad I've been able to devote attention to both The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, each having its own special qualities.
What's your favorite piece?
I'm not sure there's any one I love above the others, but I am aware of those pieces I don't think were successful enough, and that spurs me to hope I'll have another go at them in future.
How do you feel about your new work in the updated Silmarillion?
I think it is some of my best Tolkien art yet. The original illustrated edition from 1998 was a great accomplishment for me, but we were rather limited by the technical requirements. We felt that if the text were printed on paper that could support four-color reproductions at any place, we could add a good number of new works. Having already considered illustration subjects that were not included in the '98 edition, I began my selection of images by revisiting many of those works and then selecting other new images as needed or desired. I feel greatly privileged to have used my talents to return more fully to this magnificent but underappreciated epic.