Art and Literature News

Bringing Us There and Back Again: An Interview with Jemima Catlin

Jemima Catlin - Hobbit book coverLike many fans around the world, I enjoy collecting Tolkien books. So when I heard that there was going to be a brand new illustrated edition of The Hobbit, I knew I would need to get my hands on a copy.

The last illustrated edition of the much-loved classic was released over a decade ago and featured artwork by Alan Lee. This time around, the artist who has the chance to show us their own version of Middle-earth is Jemima Catlin. The young artist is from Dorchester, Dorset and comes from a very creative background; her mother is an artist and her father, a photographer. It’s no surprise that she developed a passion for drawing at an early age.

Jemima graduated from The Arts University, Bournemouth with a degree in Visual Communication and completed a BA Honours Degree in Illustration in 2010. She was discovered by HarperCollins’ publisher, David Brawn, when she sent him a Tolkien inspired project she created for her illustration degree course.

Jemima has been a fan of Tolkien for many years, having read The Hobbit for the first time when she was 12. “I really loved it, and couldn’t put it down!” she admits.

She works with a wide range of media including: collage, pencil, ink, monoprinting, watercolor, and acrylic paints. You can visit Jemima’s official website to view her gallery, and see for yourself how she uses various materials to create her work.

In this interview I had the chance to learn more about Jemima, as well as her illustrations and interest in Tolkien.

Since the last illustrated edition of The Hobbit came out more than ten years ago, what was it like when you found out that you were going to be the one to illustrate for a new one?

Jemima: It was really exciting! I got the email at the end of November 2010 asking if I would like to submit some illustrations for The Hobbit, I started drawing straight away – I couldn’t wait.

The Tolkien community has been around for decades, and there are so many people out there who love and appreciate his works. What has the response been so far about your version of The Hobbit?

Jemima: I have had some lovely messages and emails from people; a lot of them are excited that they can now get their children interested in The Hobbit. It’s wonderful to think that a whole new generation are going to be reading about Middle-Earth.

Do you have any favorite editions of The Hobbit? What about favorite Tolkien artists?

Jemima: I think Tolkien himself was a fantastic illustrator; I love his illustrations for The Hobbit. I made sure that I kept the characters and landscapes looking similar to how he intended.

Jemima CatlinHave you done any illustrations for Tolkien’s other novels such as The Silmarillion or The Lord of the Rings? Maybe even something non-Middle-earth related such as Roverandom?

Jemima: Yes I illustrated Roverandom as my final major project at university. I found it a fascinating story, and really inspiring. I sent a few of the illustrations to HarperCollins, who invited me up to show them the whole project. They sent the work to the Tolkien Estate, who really liked it, but didn’t feel it accurately represented J. R. R. Tolkien’s vision of the story. It was a year later that the Tolkien Estate requested I submitted illustrations for The Hobbit! The first Middle-Earth related drawing I did was of two enormous Tree Ents for my sister’s wedding table plan in 2008, the table names were at the ends of the branches. I had no idea that would be the first of hundreds of Middle-Earth inspired drawings!

What was your favorite scene from The Hobbit to illustrate?

Jemima: I really enjoyed drawing the Dwarves playing their instruments at Bag End. That section is filled with magic and atmosphere.

What are your feelings towards The Hobbit trilogy? Anything you’re especially looking forward to in the next two movies?

Jemima: I love Peter Jacksons’ interpretation of Middle Earth, I must have seen The Lord of The Rings films countless times. I do think that The Hobbit didn’t need to be made into three films though, two probably would have been plenty. I am really looking forward to the next film though, this one should have all the really exciting bits in!

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The book will be available to purchase starting on September 12, 2013. Get ready, Tolkien fans and make sure to keep an eye out at your local bookstores! As well as this edition of The Hobbit, Jemima will be releasing a 2014 calendar filled with her illustrations.

To stay updated with Jemima, be sure to visit her official website, follow her on Twitter and like her Facebook page.

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