John Howe was born on August 21st, 1957, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He is a graduate of Ecole des Arts Dècoratifs de Strasbourg in France. Howe has illustrated many of Tolkien's works including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. He now lives in Neuchatel, Switzerland with his wife and son.
Howe, along with his colleague Alan Lee, was the lead artist for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. Contrary to popular belief, he does not appear as one of the nine Kings of Men in the Prologue of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring. Howe is often identified as the second from the left, but an unaltered picture published on page 3 of Chris Smith's The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare shows it to be a completely different person.
- "Illustrating Tolkien means treading warily, dipping one's brush in shadow and rinsing them in light. Battle and balance, down the impossible path between the clear and the obscure."
- ― John Howe on painting Middle-earth, Tolkien's World.
- "Somewhat shamefully I am obliged to admit that I first read The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and finally The Fellowship of the Ring. [...] Thus, I plunged directly into the world of Tolkien just above the Falls of Rauros and have been swimming diligently ever since."
- ― John Howe on his reading experience, Tolkien's World.
- "It was this place in North Island, and we wandered round these fields saying, well, Bag End can go here, that can be our party tree; it was very exciting. It's almost even more fun to have a location imposed upon you, because you really have to get down to brass tacks and figure it out, imagine it on paper. It's a real illustrator's job."
- ― John Howe on working for Weta, Interview.