Alan Lee

Alan Lee Biography

Artists UK - prints posters and books

Alan Lee was born in 1947 in Middlesex and went to the Ealing School of Art to study graphic design. He was interested in myth and fairytale from an early age and concentrated on the depiction of Celtic and Norse myths during his early years of study. After graduating in 1969 he went straight into freelance illustration. Alan Lee's first commissions were mainly book covers. In 1975 Alan decided to move to Dartmoor to be close to inspiring landscapes.

In 1978, in collaboration with Brian Froud, Alan Lee illustrated a large volume of fairy lore called 'Faeries' which became very popular and established Alan's reputation as an outstanding painter and illustrator. This success enabled him to fulfil a long standing ambition to illustrate the collection of Welsh legends called The Mabinogion. Alan Lee's depictions of 'Olwen' and 'Blodeuedd' are particularly beautiful images. In 1984 came the book 'Castles' with David Day. 'The Mirrorstone' in 1985 by Michael Palin was the first book to use holograms and won the Smarties prize for innovation. Alan went on to do 'The Moon's Revenge' by Joan Aitken (1986) and 'Merlin Dreams' by Peter Dickinson (1988). In 1989 Alan Lee was asked to create the conceptual design for the film of 'Eric the Viking' by Terry Jones.

One of Alan Lee's greatest achievements was the illustration of the centenary edition of 'The Lord of the Rings' for which he produced fifty illustrations. 'Black Ships Before Troy' by Rosemary Sutcliffe (1993), which Alan Lee illustrated, won the Kate Greenaway Medal fior Children's book illustration. In 1994 Alan Lee was back with Tolkien as he illustrated 'Tolkien's Ring' by David Day. From there he moved on to 'The Wanderings of Odysseus' then back again to Tolkien illustration. In 1996 Alan Lee was commissioned to undertake a fully illustrated edition of 'The Hobbit' for publication in late 1997. In 1996 Alan also agreed to a commission by Artists UK of his beautiful painting of 'Rivendell' as a high quality fine art limited edition print.

 Then, Alan Lee was asked to work on the new films of 'Lord of the Rings' that involved him creating creatures that would be scanned into a computer and turned into animated creatures. He said it was amazing to watch something he had painted get up and walk around on the screen! The film involved a great deal of time in New Zealand where most of the location work was filmed. It resulted in Alan winning an oscar and becoming one of the most sought-after artistic talents in the world. Two more Alan Lee Limited Editions were published by Artists UK (Battle of Pelennor Fields by Alan Lee and Frodo & Gandalf by Alan Lee) and he continues to be in great demand.

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