I’m all for suggestions. So when Pengolodh recommended that I take a look at Jake Murray I was more than excited. I had been taking a look at some of my favorite cards (encounter or player) and Jake Murray had already been on my radar for a little bit. Having another person suggest him told me that I should showcase Jake Murray and his wonderful art next. I just want to get something out there right now for all of you and that is this:
Just look at that. I’m not going to lie, at one point or another a print of this will be in my hands and framed somewhere in my home (I’m sure my girlfriend will have an opinion as to WHERE it would go exactly). But seriously, this piece is just fantastic. What has amazed me the most about some of the pieces of art in this game is how some of these artists are able to create works of art that cater to novel and film enthusiasts alike. This depiction of Gollum is no exception. If you had only seen the films you could easily tell this is Gollum. If he turned towards you, the viewer, you’d expect to see Andy Serkis’s likeness staring at you. If you absolutely deplore the films and are more of a purist then Gollum’s little boat should harken back to the passages in The Hobbit when Gollum and Bilbo played that oh so famous riddle game. Either way the Gollum in this piece is one we are all familiar with. Here we see a strange, alien creature pining over something of great value. Around him is a vast nothingness, a place where nothing should call home and yet here he sits on his little boat.
So yeah, I’m a little smitten by this piece and I’m happy to say that qualities of this depiction of Gollum can be found throughout Jake Murray’s other illustrations. His use of lighting and shadows harken back to that “storybook” look that isn’t all to prevalent these days with Lord of the Rings themed art, though that certainly isn’t a bad thing. But as I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I am a little bias with the former direction. A great example of this would be in one of my favorite ally cards in the game: Dori.
Just looking at this depiction of Dori makes me want to open an old book and start reading, and not even one Lord of the Rings related. The lighting and the colors in this illustration of Dori carrying Bilbo has an antiquated feel to it. This image could easily be placed next to the page in The Hobbit where it falls to Dori to carry Bilbo through the Goblin Caves and I wouldn’t even be bothered by it. Another great example of this lighting and storybook feel is evident in another Hobbit novel related card: Hardy Leadership.
Even if you had no clue who these characters are you can easily gleam they mean business. If I was wandering through the woods at night and I had these two faces guiding me, I would certainly feel a little comforted. Again, it’s also nice to see a depiction of a pivotal character in the books portrayed in a way that doesn’t scream Peter Jackson! This depiction of Gandalf is at once both familiar and original, and still stays true to the character’s attributes, his ability to inspire, to encourage, and to give a pretty good mean look if he needs to. Before I go into another one of Mr. Murray’s illustrations I’d like to link one of the encounter cards he worked on which you can see here. It, like the other pieces I’ve posted so far, illustrate his skill with lighting and shadows.
Like most of the artists who work on this game, Mr. Murray doesn’t illustrate solely for the LOTR: LCG and in fact provides illustration for many other games. Taking a direction away from browns and blacks and greens, Mr. Murray goes towards an oriental theme in an illustration he provided for The Legends of the Five Rings. Looking through his deviantart page I couldn’t help but notice this one in particular.
I know little to nothing about L5R but I am certainly a fan of this theme, being a huge fan of Anime and having quite the fascination with Japanese and other far eastern cultures. I was bound to notice this piece. It is much different than Mr. Murray’s illustrations for LOTR: LCG and yet he still proves his skills at lighting and shadows. The warrior in this picture, from what I can gather, is protecting something, potentially even on the “good” side in this world, as is evident with the only shaft of light shining on him. The rest of him is surrounded in shadow, and the skies behind him hint at an incoming storm. What is this warrior protecting? Who is he? And what is approaching him that gives this piece a slightly chilling feel to it?
Mr. Murray is definitely good at getting that above feeling across. That chill you get when you know you are being watched or when you feel threatened, or when you feel lost. It’s evident in the Gollum piece posted above. It’s illustrated in the encounter card linked in an earlier paragraph. It’s evident in his depiction of a Nazgul and it’s evident in his portrayal of the warrior seen above. However, he is also skilled at using his lighting techniques and clever uses of color to bring inspiring images such as the depiction of Gandalf shown above and of this:
This piece just screams wonder. I had to actually double check that this wasn’t something that was related to The Silmarillion, as this particular piece reminded me of some of Ted Nasmith’s work (which I personally love!). Looking at his description on his deviantart page and some of the comments below, the piece is actually an original work of art, and I recommend you read the brief passage he created to go along with the artwork.
So please give Mr. Murray a look if you haven’t done so already. If the image links didn’t already lead you then you may click here to check out his DevianArt page. He also has a new, and very sleek looking, website devoted to some of his art which can be found here.It’s here that you can purchase some of his art, including the Gollum illustration posted in the beginning of this article. You can also check out his twitter and facebook page!
Thankfully Mr. Murray seems to be pretty active within FFG. He has done illustrations for both the Star Wars Card Game and for Game of Thrones. Despite his varied and intensive amount of work he is still pretty active within the LOTR: LCG, having done the illustration of one of the Heroes of this last cycle, Idraen!
I’m looking forward to what else Mr. Murray has in store for us, whether it’s something heartwarming and inspiring orsomething that’s going to send a slight chill down my spine.
*A quick note – I know the art in the middle of the featured image is from a different game, I just had to use it since it looked so awesome 🙂
What do you think of Mr. Murray’s art? Is there a card of his in particular you really enjoy? What other artists have impressed you with their contributions to the LOTR: LCG?
-The Secondhand Took
If you appreciated the work of Jake Murray but want to see what else is out there in our game then check out my Art Page.