Art and Literature News / Podcast

Travel to Middle-earth on the New York Subway – An Exclusive Audio Interview with Puck Works

Puck is a street artist who has been posting Lord of the Rings and Hobbit-themed MTA posters at New York City subway stations. He keeps a running tally of his notices, including the locations where they can be found, on his blog.

The Middle-earth News reporters wanted to get the inside scoop from the man himself, and luckily, Puck agreed to do an audio interview with Arwen, Lily, and Myla about his brilliant creations. You can listen to the full audio interview using this link or using the player above.

It will probably come as no surprise that I have a few Tolkien-inspired T-shirts. Every time I wear one, I look around expectantly, just waiting for a fellow nerd to smile or somehow acknowledge that we belong to the same fellowship of fans.

Puck, an artist and graphic designer in New York City, has managed to create the same sense of camaraderie on a grander scale in the New York subway system. While some passengers carelessly glance over posted signs, lovers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit may find themselves doing a double-take when they see references to their favorite books.

A few week’s ago, when a sign warned passengers to “Avoid the Watcher in the Water,” one person actually looked down on the tracks and took a few steps into the darkness before registering that the notice wasn’t an official sign from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Puck creates artwork designed to mimic the advisory signs posted by the MTA, but with a Tolkien twist.


“You live in this city and you see these signs that are posted everywhere. People walk by them every day without a glance. And to have something that is subtly placed there–and to throw them off–was basically my intention.”

Why Tolkien? Puck has been a fan of The Professor since his childhood, so it seemed like an obvious fit. As you’ll hear in the interview, Puck had a flash of inspiration after a particularly exasperating day on the subway. For all of his trouble, he might as well be travelling to Mordor! The idea took hold, and soon, Puck was posting his first set of notices that warned travelers of goblin activity.

Someone suggested that he could use ideas from Game of Thrones, and he even went so far as to create and print Star Wars-themed posters. But, it just didn’t work.

“Tolkien is just perfect for it,” Puck answered. “I don’t know why.”

Puck’s signs act as warnings of danger, service announcements, and sometimes advertise special events.


And what event could be more special than Hobbit Day on September 22? Puck is working up a memorable sign for Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ Birthday, and he filled us in on what we can expect to see. “There are going to be directions to Hobbiton, what time Gandalf will be firing his fireworks, and of course, Bilbo will be addressing the crowd.”

Also to come are signs announcing the coronation of Aragorn and Durin’s Day (complete with a “dwarf-tossing” event)!

Puck regularly posts pictures of his newest posters on his blog, PuckWorks, and on Twitter and Instagram. If you live in New York City, keep an eye out for one of his signs. But if you do find one, Puck asks that you leave it for others to enjoy.

“Now that I’m getting more exposure, people take the posters down,” he said. “I’m really trying to ask them to maybe take a picture and let people know you saw it. I’d appreciate it if it stays up as long as possible.”

When you do take a picture, consider posting it on Twitter to share with other fans, and be sure to tag @PuckWorks and @MiddleEarthNews!

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  1. Brilliant,good work Puck and thanks for sharing Lily.

  2. this is amazing! Now I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled on my daily commute