J.R.R. Tolkien created several of the most popular books ever written -- "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Those books paint their scenes using words -- text descriptions that are extremely detailed and vivid. Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, as illustrators, have the job of taking those text descriptions and bringing them to life in images. The process that they use to create such detailed paintings is fascinating.
But first, the brothers had to get the gig.
One part of illustration is the fact that a lot of illustration is commissioned work. Someone needs an illustration -- an ad agency, a publisher, a magazine editor, etc. -- and is willing to pay to have the illustration created by an artist.
In the case of the J.R.R. Tolkien calendars, the person with the money was Ian Summers, the art director for Ballantine Books. He needed a set of 14 illustrations for the 1976 Tolkien Calendar. Ian describes the scene of his first meeting with the Brothers Hildebrandt in this way:
In the world of illustration, this probably ranks as one of the least orthodox methods for getting a commission, but it worked in this case. The Hildebrandt brothers got a contract and they started to create their illustrations.