Talks with Tolkien artists: Tulikoura

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MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

Previous talks: :bulletblue: with Gold-Seven
                            :bulletblue: with steamey
                            :bulletblue: with ekukanova

Today we are going to talk with a Tolkien artist who drew Dwarves before it was cool (before the Hobbit movie, I mean...) Meet Tulikoura :icontulikoura:!

The Siege of Moria by Tulikoura     Battle of Five Armies: Elves of Mirkwood by Tulikoura

Battle for Moria by Tulikoura     Balins decision by Tulikoura

War of the Dwarves and Orcs by Tulikoura     The Fall Of Azaghal by Tulikoura

1. Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?

Hi, my name is Joona Kujanen, I'm 24 years old, studying economics at the university of Eastern Finland and going to finish my master's degree next spring. My hobbies are reading (favourite authors being J.R.R.Tolkien, B. Cornwell, G.R.R.Martin, T. Zahn, A. Sapkowski and D. Gluhovski) and drawing (with drawing ink + graphite pencil).

2. When did you read Tolkien's books for the first time, and what impression did they leave in you?

I read the Hobbit first time when I was in the elementary school (and saw a fancy theatre version of it as well) but I read the trilogy first time in 2001 - I got the book as a Christmas present.

3. How extensive is your knowledge of Middle-earth? Do you consider yourself Tolkien nerd?

Well, I can say without hesitation that I'm a Tolkien nerd. Reading of Silmarillion may be regarded as one step towards that goal in my opinion, hah. I'm very fond of the vast history Tolkien has created for Middle-Earth.

4. When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie. Did it happen to you as well? Did you try to prevent it?

To some extend, yes. I read the trilogy only some weeks before seeing the movie so it's no wonder. I have mixed feelings towards this issue, as some characters and scenes from the movie trilogy "fitted" to my vision quite well whereas some didn't at all. It's kinda like a patchwork, really... On the other hand, when I read the book I hardly think about the trilogy at all, so it's a "problem" only experienced while drawing - it's easier to use familiar elements there.

5. 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?

This is just a hobby for me. In general it's hard to see my drawings in a "professional" way, especially if it comes down to things like trying to make a living out of art.

I would say it was something more than just sketching and doodling to notebooks right after high school. I started to pick themes and pay more attention to usage of drawing ink, which I had started to use in middle school. About that time I was inspired by Finnish artists Petri Hiltunen and Hannu Lukkarinen as well as by Ian Miller's great art which guided my drawings.

6. You are one of the few artists who illustrate the history of Dwarves. How did you come to be interested in it, and what influences the choice of what part of the books will you illustrate?

Like I mentioned, I'm very fond of the lore Tolkien created. But there's this special melancholy in stories of Dwarves that appeal to me very much. Battle scenes are also a plus (and one can find plenty of wars and battles when reading about dwarves), as well as drawing  of series like War of the dwarves and orcs, which contains interesting sceneries (Moria and its surroundings) and events (duel between Nain and Azog).

7. Where do you look for inspiration for your paintings, not only from contentual, but also artistic side? Do you use references?

Seeing Ian Miller's artwork was the initial kick start for me, I wanted to draw similar kind of sceneries and characters as he did and eventually added own layers to it. Many artists in dA have also been sources of inspiration when it comes to drawing elements of nature, shading etc. and I have learnt to use more white space in my drawings just by looking at other artist's works. I hardly use references, but when I do it's mostly in cases of animals like horses (I always mess up the size) or details like coat of arms, or runes.

8. Your artwork is mostly black and white, and apparently this style suits you well. But nevertheless, didn't you think about experimenting with color?

In my opinion using only black drawing ink is way easier than using all kind of colours, and frankly speaking I just don't have patience or skills needed for colouring in general. I enjoy watching colourful paintings and drawings more than doing that myself.

9. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of

- a Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?

Battle of Nanduhirion, part 3 by Tulikoura
I really like how this turned out. It took a long time to finish those chainmail armours as I ran out of marker pens three times when drawing this... but it was worth it.

- a picture from other fandom or original picture you are most proud of?

Surface by Tulikoura
Aquaria is one of the best games I have played, and about the only one that makes me want to draw about it...

- a picture that was hardest to paint?

Gothmog Strikes Fingon Down by Tulikoura
I had some problems with drawing fire and smoke - it didn't look too good at first as I was inexperienced with graphite pencils. Luckily I got some good feedback and suggestions how to cover it. And Gothmog looked like Hulk Hogan for few hours before I changed it, hah.

10. 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.

Well, my twin brother drew with me when we were younger and nowadays he gives me constructive criticism and suggestions... which I usually tend to ignore but it still gives me an another perspective. If I would have to name persons in dA that have been sources for inspiration and have supported me as an artist during these years, those would be woutart, EthalenSkye and Grishend. Very nice chaps indeed.

11. Is there some artist(s) at dA you know, who doesn't have as much attention as they would deserve? If yes, could you give us some thumbnails from their gallery?

A tricky one. Well, I know that artist known previously as JustinRaven started a new account so if there are his old contacts still looking for him, his new account is :iconjdr-illustrator:
. 'Moonlight Encounter' by JDR-Illustrator, 'Underwater City Map' by JDR-Illustrator.
He has some fine and classic looking RPG-style fantasy art in his gallery.

12. There are many Tolkien-themed groups at dA. Do you have some favourites which you would recommend watching/joining? What about other art and fantasy groups?

:icontolkien: and :iconthelotrclub: are the only groups that I really know when it comes to Tolkien-themed ones. These two contain art based on every book and LotR-movies which is a very nice thing, and I thank group admins for organizing activities, events and discussions. There are of course many groups that target, for example, only art based on Silmarillion (:iconsilmarillion-club:) or the Hobbit (:iconthehobbit-tba:). When it comes to other art groups and groups in general - it's quite easy to find a group where people share similar interests. For example Warhammer 40k has :iconeye-of-terror:, :iconcommissariat: and when it comes to even more specialized subcategory like Imperial guards... and there you have :iconthe-imperial-guard:. Good stuff.

13. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?

Looking forward to draw more Middle-Earth -themed art in the future - I have to finish my battle of five armies -series and I have received some really good suggestions as well.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Rohirrim journal skin.

Horse head © 2009 - Grinmir-stock
Texture by kizistock
Knotwork by gbrgraphix
© 2013 - 2021 MirachRavaia
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DarqueJackal's avatar
Great to "meet" you Tulikoura! 
gbindis's avatar
Wow, Tulikoura, what a nice interview! :D I'm just looking at stuff you mentioned as your inspiration (Ian Miller's works are stunning!).

Looking forward to see your new works, but you already know that! :)

Thanks for the interview!
LimeGreenBunny's avatar
Wow, I have never come across this artist before...he is amazing! I love his dwarves. And I will never understand how to use a pen like that lol.
MirachRavaia's avatar
I'm glad you discovered him through the interview!