John Howe (born August 21, 1957 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) is a book illustrator, living in Neuchatel, Switzerland. One year after graduating from high school, he studied in a college in Strasbourg, France, then at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs.
He is best known for his work based on J. R. R. Tolkien's worlds. Howe and Alan Lee were the lead artists of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Howe also re-illustrated the maps of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion in 1996–2003. His work is however not limited to this, and includes images of myths such as the Arthurian legend or Beowulf. He also illustrated many other books, amongst which many belong to the fantasy genre (Robin Hobb's books for instance.) Howe also contributed to the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. He is an expert in medieval armour and weaponry.
Howe is criticized by some for pushing a medieval look on Middle-earth: whereas Tolkien's Middle-earth, a world filled with descendants of a once-great empire (Númenor) in many ways resembles more ancient Greece or ancient Egypt in their waning days, John Howe's Middle-earth is visually based primarily on medieval Europe. This look was incorporated partially into Peter Jackson's movies. It can, however, be argued that Howe's interpretation is quite accurate, since Europe's medieval period also followed a great empire (the Roman Empire). The world of Middle-earth contains other anachronisms, most importantly hobbits' almost Edwardian lifestyle.
Some of his works of art are available here .