Talks with Tolkien artists: dejan-delic

19 min read

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By MirachRavaia

If you like Tolkien and horses, the gallery of
:icondejan-delic: - dejan-delic is the right place for you to look! The beautiful horses of Middle-earth come to life in his unique pictures (with Legolas as a bonus ;)):

Roheryn by dejan-delic The Black Riders horses by dejan-delic
Asfaloth by dejan-delic Legolas by dejan-delic
 Windfola by dejan-delic Shadowfax by dejan-delic

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

Hello! First of all, I would like to thank you very much for inviting me to do this interview. It is a great honour for me as an illustrator to be a part of this, especially when it is about something like “The Lord of the Rings” series.
My name is Dejan Delic, and I live in Serbia. I have a college degree in industrial design, and illustration has been the primary form of my artistic orientation for many years now. Since I am a great fan of epic fantasy, the most common themes in my art are concerned with this genre, as it can be seen in my deviantArt gallery.

2. It is interesting to find out the stories behind people's usernames. What is yours?

Actually, there is no story behind my username. The one I wanted to use in the beginning was already taken, so I decided to use my first and last names. It is short and easy to remember and today, after five years at deviantArt, I think it was a good idea.

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

It was a long time ago, I think I was about 14 or 15 years old when I first encountered “The Lord of the Rings” series. It was my first contact with the epic fantasy genre and it left a considerable impression upon me. The impression was strong in the sense that it inspired me to explore other JRR Tolkien's books, but it also lead me to other authors and books of the genre.

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

I must admit that my knowledge of Middle-earth is not too extensive, and I do not consider myself a proficient expert on Tolkien's world. I am certainly familiar with the basics of the whole story and some important details,  but I am far from being a thorough LOTR expert.

5. Did you read the books, or see the movies first? 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?

Frankly, I first saw the Ralph Bakshi's animated film from 1978, and it left a very strong impression on me and lead me to read the book series the film was based on. I have to say that the animated characters did not have an influence on me when I was reading the books, and that, in my head, I created a completely different picture of everything  - starting from the characters, creatures and events, to natural surroundings, lands and territories where the entire story takes place.

In my opinion, Peter Jackson's LOTR film trilogy was faithful to the books and it was quite well done. Of course, I have many objections regarding some visual solutions, the absence of some characters that appear in the books, and the choice of actors for certain characters, but overall, I think that the trilogy was successfully turned into the films. Unfortunately, I don't think that they managed to achieve the same with “The Hobbit” film trilogy.

As far as the LOTR book characters being replaced by actors in the films go, I didn't have any problems with that. The descriptions from the books have always been the most important for me, and I regard film adaptations an addition to the written work, and a few hours' worth of easy entertainment.

6. 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?

It is in fact difficult to define the concept of a professional artist. Is it someone who became popular because of their commissions and their well built style, or is it someone others consider worthy of this title, regardless of their popularity? It is certainly something that can be discussed. As far as I am concerned, I think I have managed to build my own style over many years, and that's not easy to do in art at all. I also believe I have managed to elevate my style to a professional level, and the time will show whether I am right. Until then, numerous rewards, commissions and of course, artwork, can speak for themselves.

I have been drawing for quite a long time, since I was little. After graduating from the design college, I have dedicated myself to graphic design, comics and illustration, with illustration having come to the fore in the last five to six years.
There are really many artists who have influenced my drawing style, but the main ones are Walt Disney, Ralph Bakshi, John Buscema, Alberto and Enrique Breccia, and Mike Mignola. Their work attracted me to drawing when I was a child, and it is still present in my style today. Some of these artists haven't influenced me with regards to style, but they have taught me that one should be original and different in one's approach to drawing in order to develop as an artist and reach the audience that will be able to appreciate it.

7. Your style is rather unique, so I would like to ask a bit more about it. What is the evolution behind it? Did you experiment and decide that "this is it", or did it evolve gradually?

Thanks a lot, I am glad you see it that way.
The illustrations I do today are drawn in vector graphics using CorelDRAW software. Naturally, it all started with pen and paper, in the traditional way, but over the years I switched to creating in digital form, which suits me better and completely realises my imagined style in a desired way.

Everything developed gradually of course. In the beginning, I did realistic drawings but after a few attempts at cartoon style drawings, I chose to work in that style. I tried working in it in one short graphic novel and after that I knew that was it. Now it has been five years already since I have been working in this style and I believe it will still go though some drawing evolutions over time.

8. Your main LotR fanart is a series of Middle-earth horses. Why horses, and what is your relation to these magnificent animals?

Yes, I mainly draw fanart based on Middle-earth horses. I think this segment has been unfairly neglected by artists who do LOTR illustrations, since these books are full of horses that simply deserve to be drawn for their descriptions, roles and actions. In other words, I am a big fan of The Rohirrim and the Kingdom of Rohan. Other illustrators mainly draw the main characters, warriors, wizards, creatures and battles, but I found it especially interesting to get into something certainly connected with the LOTR series but not so exploited in the visual sense.

Truth be told, none of this would have happened have I not been a huge fan of horses. I have loved horses since I was little and my first drawing ever was a drawing of a horse. Horses are certainly my eternal inspiration, they enchant with their beauty, gracefulness and strength and don’t leave anyone indifferent.

9. What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?

Many other books and series inspire me to create fanart, and the ones most dear to me are: “Malazan Book of the Fallen“ by Steven Erikson, “The First Law“ by Joe Abercrombie, “Sword Of Shadows“ by J. V. Jones, “The Gentleman Bastard“ by Scott Lynch, “ASOIAF“ by George R. R. Martin, “The Kingkiller Chronicle“ by Patrick Rothfuss, “Mistborn“ by Brandon Sanderson and many others.
Simply, the epic fantasy genre itself is very inspirational for me in the sense that I have complete freedom in the drawing approach, without the boundaries that are imposed by reality and the world we are used to, in terms of the interior, exterior, costume, anatomy and so on. Naturally, the books have to be really excellent to influence me with their quality so that I can illustrate them. The above mentioned book series and writers are the very top in the genre, in my opinion, and it is a great pleasure to draw illustrations based on these magnificent books.

10. 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?

My favourite technique is vector graphics from the CorelDRAW software. It is the best for the style that I practice and for now, I would not change anything in that regard. My drawing style itself might still undergo a modification or two, but the technique is staying the same for now.

11. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?

In my opinion, every artist should stick to their own style and the goal that they have set, regardless of what is going on around them and the conditions they create under. Then the results will come. One should be very persistent and practice their drawing skills daily, accept sensible comments, since that is the only way to progress. So – I would recommend they work tirelessly.

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

The Flood Of Bruinen by dejan-delic
This scene completely captures my fascination with horses and it is still the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the LOTR series.

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

Locke Lamora by dejan-delic
Locke Lamore, the main character of the “The Gentleman Bastard“ series by Scott Lynch. A while ago, the author himself posted this illustration on his Twitter, and I think that says enough about how much this illustration is dear to me.

- a picture that fits your current mood?

At The Eolian by dejan-delic
Music is always around. Just like Pat’s books and Kvothe.

- a picture that was the hardest to paint?

Brukhalian by dejan-delic
Starting with the composition and the number of elements to the details and colouring, this illustration really took a long time to do. This is a scene from the great Malazan saga.

- any other picture you would like to share with us and why?

Hasufel by dejan-delic
It was a real pleasure drawing Hasufel based on Tolkien’s rich description, as well as the flag of Rohan. This is one of my favourites.

13. What key people in your life, (on or off of dA) have been inspirations to you, or have supported you, as an artist? You can also tell us why, if you want.

First and foremost my family, without whose support and tolerance there would not be any artwork to show. Then of course, there are my friends, fellow artists, without whose support and suggestions I would not have improved significantly. They know who they are, I don’t want to mention names and accidentally forget someone.
There are of course people who like my work here on deviantArt, whose support and comments are really priceless.
And of course, there is Lilliana Letic, a translator who edits and translates all my interviews and texts at the professional level.

14. 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?

Certainly. The gallery at :iconcanuslilium: is full of great photos and really unjustifiably neglected by deviantArt audience. I think it deserves more attention and many more viewers due to its immense quality and originality. It is pure magic in the form of photography.

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

Hmm, now you’ve got me, I must admit. Let’s say that the fans of Tolkien and of my art can expect new work and new LOTR horses in the near future.

Thank you for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
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