Talks with Tolkien artists: annoulaki

18 min read

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MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

As a great Aragorn fan myself, I adore the gentle illustartions of :iconannoulaki: - annoulaki, a young Greek artists who depicts lovely scenes from his family life. She almost declined the interview for not being "good enough artist", but I managed to convince her that skill is not what's most important for these talks, and that her pictures are interesting and inspiring enough to be shared with you. See for yourself!

Banner of hope by annoulaki Gilraen by annoulaki

Estel by annoulaki Arwen and Eldarion by annoulaki
Coronation by annoulaki Aragorn and Arwen vitraux colored by annoulaki

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

Hi! My name is Anna and I live in Athens, Greece. I love nature, kids, animals, fantasy, books and art.

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

I first read the Lord of the Rings when I was about 9 or 10, so a large part of its deeper meaning and philosophy, that would later affect me quite a lot, didn't really register. I had already seen the movies, so I knew I was going to like the books, even though the first chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring were a bit daunting. The most vivid memory I have of that first reading is the disappointment I felt when, having made it to the part where Aragorn and the Hobbits reach Rivendell, I discovered that there were no actual scenes with Arwen! At first I was outraged, but then I realized that this gave me coplete freedom to imagine as many scenes as i wanted, exactly the way I wanted them. I ended up loving Tolkien even more.

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

I think my knowledge of Middle-earth is quite extensive, but I wouldn't go as far as to consider myself an expert. There are too many First Age events and characters I don't remember, and the Tale of the Years can give me veritable headaches, although I've made valiant efforts to memorize some of the events described (namely everything that concerns the northern Dúnedain).

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 When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie.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?

Well, I was 5 when the first movie came out, so I didn't really have the chance to read the books first, and come up with my own ideas of how the characters and places could look like.
I must also say that Peter Jackson's casting choices are probably the reason I'm answering these questions right now. You see at first I didn't want to have to do anything with LOTR, because I didn't like the "monsters" (orcs). So there is 9-year-old me, sitting on the couch and hiding resolutely behind my Harry Potter book, while my dad watched The Fellowship of the Ring. Thanks to some lucky coincidence, I raised my eyes to the screen the exact moment we first see Aragorn, all dark, mysterious, pipe-smoking awesomeness. That was all it took; I dropped The Goblet of Fire and proceeded to watch the movie wide-eyed and slightly drooling, barely registering my dad's smug "I told you so" face. It was like a sort of epiphany, and the start of my Tolkien obsession.
In general, I think that all the casting choices were spot on, except for Elrond, who is the only character I imagine differently (along with Boromir and Faramir's hair, obviously). And I could wax poetic about how much I love every piece of prop and scenery from the movies. They are all very unique and beautiful, and you can see the care and thought put to each and every one of them.

5. Now, could you tell us something about you and art? Do you want to be a professional artist, or is art just your hobby? When did you start doing it, and who or what influenced your style?

I have always loved art. As a kid I would spend hours looking at Rennaisance art books, and drew almost constantly. However I never considered art as a career. I think that being pressured to draw something, knowing I had to, would take away all the magic and joy I get from it (I'm also super lazy, paint with the speed of a turtle and can't focus on drawing anything if I don't have at least 3 free hours ahaed and no other responsibilities). My art is just my way of visualizing something I would like to see but doesn't already exist. That's why I never draw scenes from the movies, or things that other people have drawn or photographed.
There are many styles I like, but unfortunately I can't immitate any of them, so I don't know if I could find an influence. It's just what I have learned to do, mostly through observation.

6. Your illustrations of Middle-earth are focused on the tale of Aragorn and Arwen, depicting all stages of their relationship. What do you find most inspiring in it?

Honestly, I've never thought about what exactly it is that draws me so much to their tale, or what I find most inspiring in it. I'd have to say everything. It is my favourite love story of all time. There's one thing I'd like to clarify though. I know some people think that book!Arwen is some sort of trophy bride who stays at home and does nothing but wait for her man to save the world, and I completely disagree. I love strong female characters, I just don't think that strength lies only in weapons and combat skills; sometimes it takes even greater strength to stay behind. Even in Tolkien's idealistic Middle-earth, where things like PTSD don't even exist, war couldn't have been everyone's cup of coffee. Arwen had the capacity to be a great fighter ( after all, her family tree includes characters like Luthien, Emeldir and Galadriel), but she chose not to, and I admire her for that as much as would have admired her if she had taken a sword and gone orc-slaying with her brothers and her fiancé.

7. Is the character of Aragorn special to you, and in what way?

Aragorn is the most special fictional character I have ever encountered, and definitely one of my role models (plus the man of my dreams since I was 9, let's not forget that). I would need pages upon pages to describe exactly why I love him so much, because I admire every aspect of his personality. If I had to pinpoint the most important traits that make him so special to me, I think I would choose his unwavering hope (because I tend to despair easily, and a character who literally represents hope comes in handy in those situations ), and his humbleness. The fact that even though he is the most amazing man in Middle-earth (and beyond), he chooses to hide it and walk around being called names by the very villagers he spends his life protecting.

8. 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?

I'm much more comfortable with pencils than any other technique, mostly because I haven't really put much effort to them, so I'd say that pencils are my favourite. Sadly when it comes to art I tend to be a bit lazy and stick to the techniques I already know, but I'd very much like to try digital painting and acrylics.

9. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists, or that you would really like to learn yourself?

I don't really think I can help the other artists here, most of them are much more talented than me! But I'd like to say that nothing is impossible when you're willing to try, and you should always push your limits, otherwise you'll never know what you're capable of. As for me I'd like to learn how to draw more realistically.

10. Where do you see your art in a few years?

In a much better state, hopefully.

11. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of
- a Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?

A choice worth making by annoulaki

- a picture from other fandom or original picture you are most proud of?
My falcon by annoulaki
This is my first attempt at acrylics from 6 years ago, that miraculously turned out all right, and a subject very close to my heart. Also tomorrow is my volunteer day at the wildlife clinic and I'm excited!

- a picture that fits your current mood?

family nap by annoulaki
I'm sleepy :) (Smile)

- a picture that was hardest to paint?
Upon Cerin Amroth by annoulaki

- any other picture you would like to share with us and why?
Per ardua ad astra by annoulaki
I was present at a wildly homophobic and borderline crazy - no, scratch that, it was batshit crazy - discussion today, and I promptly spent the rest of the day on to calm down. Those two helped as well :) (Smile)

12. 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.

I don't think there is someone in my life who has inspired my art. There are a lot of people I admire, both on and off dA, but I can't say I draw inspiration from them. My parents and my friends have always been proud and supportive to a fault, and manage to put up with me even when I act like a 5-year-old and hide my drawings because I'm embarassed. The person who has most supported me on dA is :iconannathelle26: , who is just amazing!

13. 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?

Season's Grootings by maichan-art Spring time - Colors of the wind by Celiarts
   005 by Tanmorna

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

I'm very glad that you exist! Lots of love from Greece!

Thank you very much for your time and answers!

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Rohirrim journal skin.

Horse head © 2009 - Grinmir-stock
Texture by kizistock
Knotwork by gbrgraphix
© 2015 - 2021 MirachRavaia
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LimeGreenBunny's avatar
What does she mean she's not a good enough artist? She's amazing! 
RowenaStormborn's avatar
that's pretty cool!
AnnabethLovegd's avatar
Her art is amazing!