Seriously Impressive: Benjamin Harff’s Hand-Illuminated “Silmarillion”

It’s been a while since I’ve covered any art that wasn’t my own here on the ol’ site, and a large part of that’s because I haven’t come across anything in a while that’s really wowed me. Mind you, I haven’t exactly been looking too hard, either, but nonetheless. And then today, both my Google Reader and good friend Nick suggested I take a look at this post about an art student who made an illuminated copy of the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. And that is impressive.

The capitals, calligraphy, and and illuminations were done by hand by one Benjamin Harff as project for the Academy of Arts. The text, it sounds, was digitized and laid out by him around the hand-crafted parts, and then he printed it from a Canon inkjet and bound it with the help of a professional binder.

I may not myself be a big fan of Tolkien, but I am certainly a huge fan of fancy and artistically made books, so this is a beautiful work to get to see made. The samples I’ve seen of the work are brilliant, and Harff seems to have really nailed that medieval style.

And, spoken like a true craftsman who’s had to perform a piece of great personal investment to an unsatisfactory schedule, he’s not entirely pleased with the final quality of the piece, and sounds inclined to try and make a more refined work if time ever allows:

Concerning the cover I am not quite satisfied, because I had liked to do some adornments, but the time in my exam was just too short. So for me this is a kind of alpha-version, and may be one day I find the time to do a finer beta-version.

Benjamin Harff

There’s a nice interview with Harff and more pictures over at the Tolkien Library, which you should obviously jump over and check out.