Meet fellow Patreons: Erik Mueller-Harder
I had been willing to start another little project and that is promoting fellow Patreons with a love for Middle-earth. They are going to be asked the Fëanorian Five Questions – truly tough ones! *g*
Welcome Erik Mueller-Harder, the man behind Tolkienists.org
1. Could you introduce yourself in three lines?
I am at heart, and somewhat by training, a philologist; my trade, however, is IT and software development: my work with Tolkien is a happy marriage of these two often antithetical elements. I first read The Hobbit at age 10 in 1973; upon learning of Tolkien’s death that year, I was devastated — and embarked upon an ultimately unsuccessful attempt at creating a theatrical script for The Hobbit.
2. What are you doing right now?
I’m analyzing and re-drawing each of Tolkien’s original draft maps of Middle-earth, with an aim at publication.
3. How did you come to Patreon?
After creating the free on-line reference sites LR Citations and the Tolkien Art Index, I was approached by a couple of colleagues who suggested that I make it easier for scholars and fans who appreciated my work to offset the expenses of developing and hosting my work. This let me feel freer to develop the Tolkienists web site and TolkienMoot discussion forum.
4. What are your plans/projects for the future, Patreon and otherwise?
After the maps book, I would like to expand the Art Index to include Tolkien’s unpublished artwork, as well as his art that is unrelated to Middle-earth; further, given the absence of permission from the Tolkien Estate for publishing thumbnail images of Tolkien’s pieces, I’d like to explore alternative methods of aiding researchers graphically.
I’d also like to expand LR Citations to include works of Tolkien other than The Lord of the Rings. James Tauber at Digital Tolkien has been working diligently at adapting and creating citation systems for The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales, and I’d love to include those.
The Tolkienists web site has had a promising beginning, but I find that the hosting platform I’m using does not scale well to the amount of information I want to publish: it takes to long to add new items. I’m planning to re-create the site from scratch using tools better suited to the work. This would also allow me to better integrate the Tolkien Art Index and LR Citations with the rest of the site.
5. Would you recommend fellow artists to come to Patreon?
I would — particularly to those whose work lends itself to being shared privately with their Patreon supporters. In my case, hosting and development expenses are on-going, so the monthly-contribution nature of Patreon seemed a natural fit; on the other hand, the work I do isn’t really shareable with my patrons in discrete packages, so there’s less of a natural sense of “I’m contributing €X/month, and I’m receiving a piece of artwork in exchange.” Still, it’s working well.
Optional: What does Tolkien mean to you?
I have loved Tolkien’s works for nearly 50 of my nearly 60 years. My earliest memories of interacting at an adult level with my father are our conversations about The Lord of the Rings in the 1970s; my fiancée and I read LotR out loud to each other in the year before our wedding; my father and I went to see PJ’s The Return of the King in the cinema the week after my mother died, which turned out also to be the week before my father died; and I’ve read it aloud three times to each of my children. The Lord of the Rings alone contains so much comfort, so many ethical and philosophical lessons, so much entertainment, so much poetry — and that one work is just the tip of the Tolkienian iceberg, as it were.
Many look at Tolkien’s works, and at all of literature, through various “lenses.” I find I look at life through a Tolkienian lens.
Do have a look at Tolkienists.org – it has recently been relaunched and looks splendid.