John Howe (born August 21, 1957) is a Canadian book illustrator, living in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. One year after graduating from high school, he studied in a college in Strasbourg, France, then at the École des Arts Décoratifs in the same city.
He is best known for his work based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s worlds. Howe served as one of the two chief conceptual designers for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Howe also created the visuals for the Lord of the Rings board game created by Reiner Knizia, as well as a dozen follow-up expansions.
Howe also illustrated the maps of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and the Silmarillion between 1996–2003. His work is however not limited to this, and includes images of myths such as the Anglo Saxon legend of Beowulf (he also illustrated Knizia’s board game Beowulf: The Legend). He has written and published a number of children’s books.
Howe illustrated many other authors, amongst which many belong to the fantasy genre (Robin Hobb, David Gemmell, Robert Holdstock and others). He also contributed to the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis and the upcoming adaptation of Mortal Engines as well as other movie and television productions. In 2005 a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings was released by publisher Meisha Merlin, complete with numerous illustrations by Howe.
Howe was one of the early members of the living history group the Companie of Saynt George, and has considerable expertise in ancient and medieval armour and weapons. He was the narrator of “Looking for the Hobbit,” a five-part documentary produced in 2014 by Arte, and will be taking on the same role in another Arte production: “Dragons,” to be released this fall.
Also appearing this fall, “A Middle-Earth Traveller,” published by HarperCollinsPublishers, will feature some of Howe’s iconic work for the books and the films, as well as new artwork exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth.