In this issue of "Talks with Tolkien artists", I talked with - EPH-SAN1634.
Her gallery is full of interesting pictures that mix Tolkien characters with greek mythology, manga and anime, children's books or even popular movies and songs:
Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?
Γεια, I am Ευφροσύνη and I am a Greek dramatist, otaku and Tolkien fan, to start with.
Ah, then I see where your "greek mythology style" comes from How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?
As I mention in some of the pictures' description, the "Greek Mythology Style" is based on an actual Greek mythology book series of my childhood, my mother was reading us since infants and my father, as publisher, used to know the writer and his brother that drew the pictures. I am a huge crossover fan and I love trying different styles in my drawing, as you might have noticed, so, I couldn't help it but trying this one too. After all, it feels so right. Because I am Greek and because of the similarities of the Valar with ancient Greek gods.
The first time I entered the Tolkien's world was through the cartoon movie of The Lord of the Rings, when I was little. We only had the 1st part, though, so I was dying to see what happened next. When I was 7 my mom bought the 1st Lord of the Rings live action movie and we watched it secretly with my brother. And then a great "love story" began. After the second movie was also released we all had become huge fans as a family. My father got us the best selections of books about the movie productions and our "santa presents" were miniatures of LOTR as well. Not to mention that this period I started dressing up as an elf and stick my ears with a tape to look more elvish (fan fact: it works).
(these 2 are from a couple of years ago, so much later...still works!) How did the cartoon and movies influence your reading experience then? What does Middle-earth consist of in your imagination?
Speaking of Tolkien always, when I got the books I had already watched the movies, so the pictures were already formed in my mind. So imagination didn't have a lot of things to do. But that is always a problem when you watch something instead of reading, isn't it? You lack of the chance to let your imagination fly. Even so, I believe PJ's films portrayed this world very beautifully.
Do you regret not reading the books before the movies? But then you delved into the Silmarillion as well (as is visible from the pictures in your gallery), where your imagination could run freely already, although the style is much more scholarly. How did that feel?
I don't regret it, really. You see, as I told you, I was very young. Besides, no matter how much I admire Tolkien, as the fact I write theatre shows, this kind of literature with long descriptions and story telling, is not my cup of tea. Personally I focus to the character development through dialogue. Thus, I am not sure I would have appreciated these books, no matter the respect I have for Tolkien's work.
About the Silmarillion...again my imagination didn't have a long way to go. You see, I was first introduced to it by fanart, so once again, image came to me before the story. I may be more artistically creative with Silmarillion characters, but I also try to not to ruin Tolkien's story, so where imagination works is mostly in AU rp and Crossovers. When you touch such a legend as Tolkien, there is a limit in freedom and the danger of being accused for disrespect larks in every corner. Even so, the fact The Silmarillion hasn't been on screen, gives more freedom to the imagination than the other books that have. And that feels great, but...as far as you go with your fantasy, the more scared you get of "what if they make it a movie and it's nothing like I imagined?"
The expectations go higher and the fear of disappointment grows bigger day by day, drawing by drawing. So does that mean that to you, what is on screen becomes a canon representation of the visuals, and you are afraid that you could be accused of not being true to it? Or do you fear disappointment if the visuals of the possible (?) Silmarillion movie don't fulfill your expectations?
Mostly the second.
I see... Now let's return to you. What brought you to deviantart and how did you pick your username?
Some years ago, my back then best friend made this account for me so I can share my drawings and that was it. The name is a bit more complicated though. It's a kind of pun of my nick name "Έφη" which can be spelled as "Ephy", in combination to APH (Axis Powers Hetalia) which is my favourite anime, so it could also mean Ephy's Powers Hetalia. The "San" is a Japanese honorific and the number 1634 was a reference to one of my favourite movies, "The untouchables".
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?
Art...that word includes everything. But when it comes to drawing, which I believe is what you care about, it's just my hobby since I remember myself and that is all really. My style has more influences than I can count. Even so, if I try to name them in general, I guess I would say Manga-Anime and DC-Marvel comics.
I was indeed asking about drawing, because your Tolkien fanart belongs to that cathegory. But what about other types of art? You said you are a dramatist - does Tolkien influence you in that area as well?
As I mentioned, I am a dramatist and Art house cinema specialist and I have published 3 theatrical plays in 3 years, but I also work in theatre as a director, co-director, technician, music controller and my personal favourite, Illuminator, which is rare to see a girl in this work. I also act but until recently I haven't got any job as an actress, except some reading drama parts with another play of mine (not published) that I performed in Francophone Festival. I love my job but let's be honest, it does not pay, sometimes at all, no matter the hard work, but it does give you a lot of experience and you get to meet amazing people...and also awful ones. But you can choose which are you going to keep and this is how the work flows. In addition to regular works, you don't just go with a resume and fill an application. People see your work and they remember. And when they need someone for this job, they will call you out of nowhere when it's the least expected. Somehow like this I have worked 2 years in a theatre and I have become close friends with the ones that run it, so I had the opportunity to perform one of my plays in a big theatre and we actually got a fair amount of money from the "tickets". And I also brought the 2nd Spanish Theatre Festival in this bigger theatre which was a great experience and from there I met amazing dramatists and also 2 great actors I am going to work with. So even if I worked from day to late at night nonstop for 3 whole days and still do from my computer, without getting any money for it, it pays in other ways. And I help my dad at work for free to aid the family.
The characters of Tolkien and their stories can be really inspiring in that sector as well. But I do not own them, so I know the limits that part inspiration from base. At least on what I publish. Though one of my publishing nicknames was Istari.So you are following your dreams like a true artist Now let's get back to Tolkien: who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?
I don't have dreams but I like where this is going.
Favourite one? This is a really tough question to answer...especially with all these characters from all the books. I wonder how one can answer that question...I actually think I don't have one favourite character at all. I have many that I like very much and a few I hate utterly.Which ones do you hate utterly?
Maeglin makes me sick and angry, his father is also a psychopath if you ask me, Denethor because of the way he treated Faramir, Feanor for too many reasons and, I know that will be a surprise, but Luthien as well. And as a matter of fact she is the one that seeing a picture of is enough to upset me out of nowhere. Really? The others are understandable, but may I ask why Lúthien?
Many reasons. First off, her story is tasteless to me. It's like a tougher Romeo and Juliet where Romeo is completely useless and gets great characters killed and Juliet tricks people to take what she wants. I don't like people like that. And if you are deep in theatre you know that only the surface people like Romeo and Juliet. Also, I don't like how people idolize Luthien as a strong female while everything she does is for a man's sake. Tolkien has much stronger women characters with less cheesy purposes. Appart her character I dislike the effect she had on the other characters' actions, as Celegorm, which I also dislike but seeing the whole picture I can't help counting the dead and I will not leave her out of responsibilities because she is a woman. If you want to be fair, be fair with both genders. In this case everyone messed up. And she had no right on the Silmarils either but she did take it so she will be allowed to marry Beren and then passed all this burden to the next generations and we have so many fights, abandoned children and dead. Feanor started this but her interference made things worse. Even if from her line came some great characters, let's be fair.
And of course....have you seen my gallery? 80% is Mairon. Do I wouldn't even need all these reasons I mentioned to hate her.
The only thing I find lovely about her story is that Tolkien based her on his wife and even had the pair's names on his and his wife's grave and , alright, that was sweet of him.
Speaking about your gallery, there are also numerous crossovers of Tolkien's characters with different movies. How do you get the ideas for those?
I am a huge cinephile. As I mentioned I have a specialty in Arthouse Cinema. Even my own plays are cinema crossovers. How the ideas come to me? I don't know, they just hit me. I always had the ability to connect things, so, since both Cinema-Theatre and Tolkien are deep into my head and heart, I find similarities and the little details that match. Either these are fitting quotes
And what about the pictures of Tolkien characters as cute kids?
(yes, Tarkovsky is always the one I make the most crossovers with)
And that goes for songs as well
This could also be called crossover of Tolkien and Martine children books. But it was mostly me trying this style with them and showing another side of the characters.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?
Each for a category I think.
Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?
UtaPri for anime
K.Ozaki for manga
Himaruya for chibi
Martine for children
but I think the one I brought around as something new was the Greek Mythology one.
That was something different. I like trying different things and I am always open for new styles. And once in a while my own.
Manga Studio and the newer Sai are better for use than Photoshop. Also a little bit of Orton Style effect smooths nicely the picture. For traditional art, the recycled paper is THE BEST. And I don't mean for the environment, it takes pencils, colourpencils, markers, pens, even watercolours (if you don't dawn it) better than any other paper. Illustration on the other hand is the worst. It smudges everything, don't even try it.
And lastly, start drawing your idea when it's still fresh and catch the passion of the moment when the idea is first born, before you lose interest. Even if ou make just a sketch for it and fix it later, do it right away. For me, this is the main reason I am so fast at drawing. As Theophan the Greek said in "Andrei Rublev", I have to be quick and finish it right away. Or else I am bored and give it up. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of
- a Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?
I am not really proud about any...most of them have something I do not like. I'll try though.
- 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?
This is probably the oldest picture of my gallery. I made it when I was 14 in a train on the knee.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.
There are many people in DA at time periods but they mostly come and go. When I draw their favourite characters they support me but then they mostly forget me. There are a few though that are loyal to me and in more personal level. First off, my partners
. Also my friend
and my newer friend and also fantastic artist
, but I think the oldest fan of my works that always leaves a comment is
. And I also have 2 Greek loyal girls,
. 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?
Unfortunately there always are. People give more credit to simpler artists that are more catchy. There are so many actually that I can't even point them out. It's chaotic. I know I am not very helpful this moment but it's hard to give examples....I mostly find out when I see a great picture that has no comment which is sad, so I always leave some. But many of them give up on their accounts, maybe for that reason. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?
I just want to thank you for honouring me this way, the people that support me and also the artists that keep the Tolkien fandom alive with their beautiful art. But also I wish fans didn't fight over things that mostly concern nowdays projecting them to Tolkien's Universe. Just respect and appreciate its beauty without bitterness.Thank you very much for your time and answers!