The Tolkien themed section of - Mallorn85's gallery is interesting for one reason - the majority of it are illustration for one fanfiction story, All That Remains, by SkyleafAlchemist19. We talked about why this story is so inspiring to her, and other things.
1. Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?
Hello! I’m not sure what to tell. I’m an enthusiastic amateur from Hungary, who works with traditional media, because electronics don’t seem to like me very much. I very rarely find in myself the courage to address others first as I usually have problems expressing myself with words.
2. What brought you to deviantArt and how did you pick your username?
It was my friends, who urged and encouraged me to join dA, so the pictures I’ve drawn wouldn’t go to the back of the drawer. That was 9 or 10 years ago.
As for the username, Mallorn was/is my nickname between friends from highschool, after we had our Tolkien-phase it just stuck, (though nowadays it’s not often in use) and I wanted something familiar sounding to use.
3. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?
My memory is a bit hazy about it. I know, that when the first movie came out, I went with my friends to the cinema, to watch it. We knew of course, that it was „based on a book”, some of us already began reading it, but at that point I really didn’t know what all the ado about it was. I think I began reading the first book of the trilogy, but found it a bit too dry for my taste, so I left it. That changed after the movie – I became curious about the story, mostly because of the visuals. It opened a whole new path in drawing and styles.
4. How much did the movies influence your imagination when reading the books?
I have to say, the movies influenced a lot: the landscapes, the clothes, some characters. I may have seen The Fellowship of the Ring movie first, but before the next movie, that came out a year later, I had my turn with the library copies of The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and later The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion. It was a bit of a rush.
5. Some of Tolkien's books can be hard to read, being more of history annals than beletry. Do you let that discourage you or not? How extensive is your knowledge of Middle-earth?
At first, yes, it did discourage me, I even left the book halfway read. The beginning is a bit slow paced, it takes time until the story speeds up and the adventure really begins. Of course, maybe I was more used to J. K. Rowling’s and R. A. Salvatore’s writing style. Nowadays it is different, I'd like to think I have a bit more patience than as a teenager, so re-reading the stories (when I have the time) will not pose a difficulty.
My knowledge of Middle-earth… I’d say it became a bit sketchy, because even though I read the trilogy and other books, that was more than a decade ago.
I know the main points and highlights, the Silmarillion names are mostly familiar, but I wouldn’t say I know it in-and-out. Until very recenly, I didn’t own copies of any Tolkien books. I know, there are libraries, but reading a book you own is different, than reading a library book, that has a time limit.
6. Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?
Glorfindel. I don’t really know why – maybe because of how I imagined him in my head (both from the portrayal of the Tolkien books, and some fanfictions).
7. Most of your Tolkien themed illustrations are for a fanfiction story "All That Remians". What is so special about this story, making you want to illustrate it even more than the original Tolkien's writings?
Well, I think it has a unique perspective and idea, is well written and perhaps hits a darker tone than most fanfictions. I don’t want to spoil the story for those, who haven’t read it yet, and might want to, so all I say is, it’s not your ordinary Lord of the Rings fanfiction.
The first couple of pictures were made partly because of a friend (you know who you are !), partly because the story itself nagged me to make at least some sketches for it.
8. What is you view of fanfiction from the position of a reader? What are you looking for in a good story?
I think fanfictions are an expression of creativity and show how much one likes a particular fandom. They are the stories of the „what if”, where you can give free reign to your imagination. It’s interesting and fun to read the different interpretations, ideas, plotlines. When you can’t get enough from the original, you can try out some fanfictions.
What I’m looking for in a good story, be it fanfiction, or original work, is mostly a good plot and balanced writing; meaning, it has to have the descriptive parts and dialogues in mostly equal quantity and and quality, and a bit of world-building doesn’t hurt also.
9. Now, could you tell us something about you and art? Are you a professional artist, or is art just your hobby? When did you start doing it, and who or what influenced your style?
I’m not a professional artist – when I was younger, I flirted with the idea, but I was discouraged from it, so it became a hobby instead. Though I couldn’t call my life complete without art.
The family legend says I started drawing when I was about 3 years old (It all began with horses), and haven’t stopped ever since – there may have been some breaks, some shorter, some longer, but I always continued.
As a child and as a teen I was a bit addicted to cartoons, be it western or eastern style (meaning anime), this left it’s mark on my drawings, I think. Now, no matter how hard I try to draw something close-to-nature, my figures always come out a bit cartoony. Of course not only cartoons influenced me – there was a time, as I was very impressed by the Italian Renaissance masters and later, other time period’s styles like Impressionism, Art Nouveau, etc.
10. How do you choose which scenes and characters from the fanfic to illustrate?
I have to read and re-read the particular chapter a couple of times – I’m a visual type, so, as I read, there usually is a movie-version of the text going on in my head.
The scenes that had the greatest impact (visually, or emotionally, or plot-wise) get an imaginary mark. These scenes then get turned over and over in my head „in 3D”, to see what the best composition for it could be.
Sometimes I can’t decide on a motion, or a moment in time, when I want to depict a process, and that’s when the outcome resembles a page of a comicbook. And sometimes – as it happens – I go for the least complicated scene. That’s usually how a scene is chosen.
11. What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?
Anything has the potential, be it book, or movie, or fanfiction, or a music video, for me to make some fanart for it – if it catches my eye, if I find it good, it just has to hit me hard enough, then it usually nags me until I get it on paper. It really depends on mood – if the mood is strong enough and lasts long enough, then I usually have to make at least a sketch to get it out of my head, and be able to concentrate on other things in RealLife.
So far, other than the Tolkien-based drawings I’ve made some Avatar: the Last Airbender, Star Wars, Trinity Blood, Fullmetal Alchemist, Assassin’s Creed etc. fanarts. Some of them because the story, or the visuals, some, because I read too many fanfictions in the theme, or watched to many music videos about them.
12. What art technique is your favourite? Do you rather keep to the art techniques and styles you are familiar with, or do you experiment with new ones as well?
Colorpencils - I can take them with me almost anywhere, they don’t take up much space and are simple to handle. They also don’t need much preparation, and I do like to draw fiddly little details. As for style… I may try to draw things differently, but the cartoony impression always seems to stay with me.
I’m mostly familiar with my pencils and pens. I used to paint too (with school-grade tempera and watercolors) and though I’m dreadfully out of practice, in the future I’d like to try painting again (I already collected most of the „ingredients”, like paper and some brushes, but it will depend on whether or not I’ll have the free time to actually make something – and time management is sadly not my forte).
13. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?
Only what my teachers told me: practice, practice and practice. Try to draw something every day, make sketches, use reference pictures, and have fun drawing/painting!
14. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of
- a Tolkien or Tolkien fanfiction illustration you are most proud of?
- a picture from other fandom or original picture you are most proud of?
- a picture that fits your current mood?
- a picture that was hardest to paint?
- any other picture you would like to share with us and why?
15. What key people in your life, (on or off of dA) have been inspirations to you, or has supported you, as an artist? You can also tell us why, if you want.
Thank goodness I have very good friends in RealLife, some, who are also here on dA, like KuroiKaras and TsukinoChou, they always supported me, on and off dA, endured my ramblings and were/are with me through the rollercoaster-ride that is Life.
16. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?
Thank you for the support, and for being there!
Thank you as well for your time and answers!