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These are the newsletters that I write from time to time, when the whim takes me. A lot of the news is also on the home page, of course, but the newsletters go into a bit more depth and also contain other stuff. They're distributed by email, to anyone who's ever contacted me via this website, which is why you'll see references to mailing lists, etc. And if I ever start writing any blogs, this is where they'll end up....

Newsletters, blogs, rantings, ravings...

27 December 2009

Goodness, it seems like a year since I last wrote... er, well, it IS a year, actually. Time flies.

Kingdom Come was full steam ahead at this time last year, but as you probably know, it ground to a halt because of funding problems. Financial jitters, I suppose. There's talk of it being [ahem] resurrected, but who knows?

But other projects turned up to take its place. Take Spartacus for example: this is a new TV series based in gladiator times, shot in New Zealand, and it premieres in the USA in January. I did some work for it a few months ago, and I've seen some short clips - it looks good.

I re-visited the Treaty of Waitangi this year, too. This new set of replicas of the Treaty documents is now a long-term exhibit at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand.

An email arrived one day, asking if I could create a hand-calligraphed certificate, and I duly accepted the job. When they sent me the details I was kinda gobsmacked when I saw the name of the recipient: The Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand, Governor General of New Zealand! I was very careful not to make any mitsakes....

Various projects came through from The Craft Shop, including some ads for Sky TV (my original ads were fine, but someone else has done a terrible job of animating one of them for screening on TV - blech!), and an interesting ad campaign for the Stella Artois Trans-European Challenge, for which I painted cars, boats, planes racing across Europe, drew a map of Europe, and painted postcard scenes of the various locations. The six postcards had to be painted in three days - quite a mission.

Smaller commissions filled in a few gaps between these projects and creating logos for some gaming companies making The Lord of the Rings-based products.

Any time not working directly on paid projects was dedicated to art and calligraphy. A group of five artists created the Alphabet Soup exhibition of calligraphy and letter arts which ran for three weeks in August in Paraparaumu, and was very succesful - I only had to bring one of my pieces home again, the rest having been sold.

I attended two excellent calligraphy workshops given by the famous USA calligrapher Charles Pearce late in the year. The first workshop was about Pen Manipulation and the second one dealt with The Letters From Hell - a manipulated gothic hand. I also taught two workshops during the year - one on calligraphy and one on painting - and I'll be teaching some more calligraphy workshops in 2010.

And in April 2010 I'll once more be the Artist In Residence for the Red Carpet Sketching Tour of NZ, following on from the inaugural event last October, when we travelled the length of New Zealand taking in all the Lord of the Rings filming sites, sketching and painting as we went.

I continue to edit the newsletter for one of New Zealand's calligraphy groups, Calligraphers of Kapiti, and in 2010 I intend to launch a new publication of calligraphy and letter arts throughout NZ and Australia. More on this in the coming months.

Last but not least: The Hobbit. Of which I am not permitted to speak. (Read into that what you will.... ;-)

But enough burbling. The canvas beckons, with several exhibitions looming up early in the new year....

Speaking of which, have a safe and happy one!


18 December 2008

Hello friends,

Another busy year draws to a close, but nothing seems to be slowing down! I am spending a lot of hours working on a film to be shot here in Wellington during the first half of 2009. Naturally I can't divulge any information about the film, but it is a major production.

A couple of movies I worked on late last year are due to hit the screens in 2009: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans will be released in January, and Laundry Warrior is due for release in March.

I've not seen the publicity/merchandise map I made for Prince Caspian anywhere, which is a shame, because it came out really well. Maybe they're holding it back for the next Narnia movie... Anyway, I've added it to the list of images which display on a random basis on my homepage, so you may see it there.

The Wizards of the Coast had another task for me this year - the cartography for the roleplaying game The Haunting of Kincep Mansion. This was a nice project; the maps needed a different look from what I'd done before. One or two of them are now on the Maps page.

Speaking of maps, I created a map of the Mines of Moria for the European version of the LOTR Online game, Moria expansion. It's designed to be a printed map, A3 size - I think it's for a special edition, but I'm not sure whether they followed through with that. It's another one you might glimpse on my homepage.

An interesting development during the year has been creating commercial art for The Craft Shop, an advertising company in Auckland. They've needed handwriting for several ads, and illustrations for others, so we've done some interesting projects together. Some examples of this kind of work can be seen on the new Commercial Art page.

The highlight of the year was of course the Red Carpet Sketching Tour! In October I accompanied the Red Carpet Tour right throughout the country, visiting all the famous filming spots from The Lord of the Rings, and giving some art tuition on the way. We sketched, painted, drew, calligraphed, laughed, and zorbed our way through twelve wonderful days, in perfect weather surrounded by incredible scenery. I can see why everyone fizzes about this tour - it really is magical. I haven't had time to write up a full report or add the sketches to the website yet (I've been so busy on that major film since getting back), but keep an eye on it; I'll get there in the end. Visit the Red Carpet Tours website for their report.

I've become the newsletter editor of one of New Zealand's calligraphy groups, Calligraphers of Kapiti. A rewarding role, and one which I don't think they'll let me escape from for many years to come! We put out quite a decent newsletter four times per year - it may end up on the web at some point.

I've also written a 'How-to' essay for a book on studio techniques (where are we up to with that, Chris and Rose?) and created CD cover art for the Wag Band's latest CD (do we have a final track list yet, Alicia?).

Incidentally, for those of you who have been asking about fonts: the page has been in abeyance because I want to set it up so that the fonts can be purchased as an instant download from myfonts.com or similar, rather than the manual process I use at the moment - and the Shire fonts are on hold until I know what's happening with The Hobbit. I have several more fonts in development but they do take time to get just right - I don't want to put anything up there that's only half-baked.

Well, that's 2008, in summary. And without mentioning any specifics, I think the next couple of years are going to be VERY interesting indeed... ;-)

So for now, Felice Navidad, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noël, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Hyvää Joulua, Zalig Kerstfeest, С Рождеством, Wesołych Świąt, Merry Christmas... and have a Safe and Happy New Year!


18 December 2007

Season's greetings everybody!

Not really a full newsletter this time, just a chance to wish you all the best for this festive time of year, write a couple of notes, and make a brief mention of the Red Carpet Sketching Tour, which I'm fizzing about!

How cool! - in October 2008, I'm going to accompany the Lord of the Rings Red Carpet Tour for its full duration, as Resident Artist on tour! So in addition to visiting all the film locations and enjoying the fabulous scenery, we'll all be able to sketch, draw and paint together. I'll be giving on-the-spot demonstrations, and offering advice and tips, and I'll also be giving evening workshops on some of the nights.

For those of you who don't know about the famous Red Carpet Tours, check it out at www.redcarpet-tours.com. Many find their Red Carpet tour a very, very special experience indeed, a life-changing event. I've heard many wonderful stories from people who have been on the tour - but the crazy thing is: I've never done the tour myself! I've been meeting people on the tour, as they pass through Wellington on Day 5 of their 12 day trip, for three years now (!!!), and even by that stage, everyone's already buzzing! Apparently it all just keeps becoming more and more magical as they take in the South Island; so that by Day 12 - the Breaking of the Fellowship - lifelong friendships have been made, wonderful things have been experienced, and images of beautiful New Zealand have been indelibly etched on peoples' minds (and in their digital cameras). So I'm REALLY looking forward to doing it all myself! Can't wait!

The last few of months have been very busy indeed for me, with the TORn map (which has been such a lovely project to be involved in), work on two movies (The Laundry Warrior and Underworld 3), creating a second set of the Treaty of Waitangi documents for a television documentary, and creating some more Dungeons and Dragons runes and alphabets for Wizards of the Coast. This was one of the projects I hinted at in the last newsletter. I had created three alphabets then - Dwarven, Elven and Dragon - and now I'm working on two more.

Also this year, after spending my entire calligraphy career working in a vacuum, I joined three calligraphy groups in New Zealand, all in the space of a couple of months! Actually, they were already aware of me, and simply lured me into their clutches! It's been good - rubbing shoulders with fellow calligraphers has expanded my horizons and deepened my knowledge. And in fact, with the work on these two movies lately, I've had the chance to cut loose with a few different styles - copperplate and blackletter have both had a bit of a workout! Hopefully I'll be adding some more examples to the calligraphy section of my website in the coming months.

I've also had paintings in a couple of exhibitions, and plan to exhibit regularly again - 2008 is going to be a great year!

As always, if you'd prefer not to receive these newsletters, just let me know. And if you're thinking of doing a Red Carpet Tour - think October 2008!

Merry Christmas! Un abbraccio a tutti i miei amici italiani!


1 August 2007

Welcome to Daniel Reeve's increasingly inaptly named 'annual' newsletter! In fact, let's just call it what it is - newsletter number 3. As always, please let me know if you'd like to be removed from this mailing list.

Various projects have turned up and kept me busy since the last newsletter (September 2006), starting with Origa. This is a game produced by Hasbro Europe for the German market, and was launched at the Essen Games Fair in October. The theme of the game is of migrating tribes in Europe in the period from the 2nd to 9th centuries. My job was to design the game board, which primarily depicts a stylised map of Europe from this period.

Actually, the list of merchandise for which I've done design, illustration or calligraphy has grown quite long, so I've added a page to my website, showing the main ones: 3rd Party Merchandise Three more projects for which I have completed work (all in 2007) will be added, as soon as they have been released....

A nice little job I did just before Christmas was to create a map of New Zealand for Weta Digital. It came out really well, but unfortunately was only for internal use, so I can't show it to you....

In between those jobs for the yet-to-be-released merchandise, I created a title treatment for Vampira, The Movie, and drew a map of the area around Cape Cod. This is intended to be the first in a series of maps, each of which will be available on a Limited Edition basis (50 pieces worldwide, in the case of the Cape Cod map). It's a beautiful-looking map, I can't wait to get started on the next one!

At the end of March I gave the keynote presentation at Thinking Creatively 2007, the annual conference of the Art Directors Club of New Jersey. Top designers in all sorts of visual fields of creativity converged on the place - it was a fascinating weekend, with many interesting people to meet, many ideas to absorb, and some very cool graphics and typography to feast your eyes on. Check out the next one if you're in that corner of the world. A mini exhibition of some of my movie work was in the foyer of the main building for the duration of the conference - it added a nice touch to the whole thing. I'm not sure who won the fight to keep the enormous printed hangings of Middle Earth and Skull Island.... Rose..? Christopher..?

I'd barely set foot back in New Zealand, before I was flying out again, this time to Italy! (it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it...). This was for the second Tolkieniana convention, in Buccinasco (part of the greater Milan area). VERY memorable times here, very special people. Over the four days I made many wonderful friends, and had a great time. So much talent in music and art, in one place! Too much to list here - you'll have to go to the next one and check it out yourself! And no one will ever forget being Lost in Fagnana - soon to be made into a feature-length movie.... I've got the Italian bug now, can't wait to go back. I've even started reading The Hobbit in Italian!

Back in New Zealand, work continued on the projects mentioned earlier, and I made a dent in the backlog of commissioned work that some of you have been waiting patiently for. I also finished an oil painting I'd started ages ago - some of you will remember me talking about doing studies of onions - here is the result, plus some older paintings.

Speaking of paintings, my Tuatara painting is going to grace the cover of the upcoming (August 2007) issue of the Systematic Biology journal.

Another exciting project underway is The Dragon War Chronicles, for which I am the Visualisation Director. After much behind the scenes work, the team has launched the official website http://www.dragonwarchronicles.com/. Be sure to keep checking the site, as the Chronicles grow, and we discover what becomes of the Selmariãc Druids and the Dragons of Shadowlong, now that the Krýsithic Age has ended....

A couple of weeks ago I officially opened the Becoming King Kong exhibition at TheNewDowse gallery in Lower Hutt. The exhibition showcases behind-the-scenes work that went into the movie, mostly by Weta Digital and Weta Workshop. Running alongside this is the next Pulse exhibition, again featuring my work (in this case, the original ink portraits from The Pirates of the Caribbean). Have a look, if you're in the Wellington area during the next couple of months. Pulse runs until September 1, and Becoming King Kong runs until November 18.

And finally, I've created the Shire Regular font. We've already seen how Bilbo writes, with his odd quirks and flourishes - now we see the Shire alphabet as it should be written. The way Frodo writes it. As before, it's available for purchase from the website, on the Fonts page

Oh, and there are a few other additions and updates to the website that I haven't mentioned here, but I'm sure you'll find them...

Okay, that's it, until next time. Expect the next newsletter when you receive it. After all, a calligrapher's newsletter is never late, nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to....



23 September 2006

Welcome to the second ever Daniel Reeve newsletter!

Well, just a mini-newsletter this time. It's not even a year since the first one, but don't worry, I don't think you're in danger of being swamped much more often than annually. I just wanted to let you all know first-hand about the fonts I'm finally releasing! ("Are you ever going to release any fonts?" has been a much-asked question).

Yep, at last, it's font time! I'm planning to release a number of fonts, without treading on any toes, nor breaching any copyright barriers. The first font I'm putting up for sale on the website is the Shire font, in a "spidery" style, the way Bilbo Baggins writes it (well, the way I write it, as Bilbo Baggins - which amounts to the same thing). I've always wanted to try this, so when I finally bought some font-creation software, the first thing I did was get my quill and write out the alphabet à la B.B., scan it, and turn it into a font. And I was pleasantly surprised how nice it looked and how readable it is! It also seems to manage to avoid looking 'mechanical' and repetitive. So I completed the entire character set, including the letters needed for the Western European languages, then created Cyrillic and Greek alphabets, and the character sets required for the East European and Baltic languages, and after a lot of testing, it's now ready to go! I've also included the special accented vowels as seen in the LOTR movies. Check it out at www.danielreeve.co.nz/Fonts/.

You'll also see a regular uncial font in use in a couple of places on the website: it's very, very similar to the one used for Gondor, Aragorn, Faramir, etc. Both this font and the more Celtic-looking Rohan uncial (well, something very close to it) will be released in the not-too-distant future. There will also be a second Shire font (the Frodo version), a Wizard font (Gandalf's handwriting), and some darker styles too...

What else has been going on? Well, once again, it's been very busy. Credit card purchasing has been added to the website, Red Carpet tours have continued, I've completed some logo designs, tattoo designs and have made some headway in the backlog of outstanding commissions, and another job for Hasbro has come up, which is what I'm working on now.

And I've been a guest at three more conventions since the last newsletter. The One Ring Celebration (ORC) in Pasadena, Los Angeles: great event, lovely people, busy, friendly - I even managed to go ice-skating. The Elf Fantasy Fair in Holland: go to it if you ever get the chance - fantasy becomes reality at this one! And finally the ELF convention in Secaucus, New Jersey, a stone's throw from Manhattan. Similar to ORC, but smaller and more personal, and once again, a lot of fun!

A few months ago I found some time to get back to painting, and after all the watercolour and acrylic paintings I've done, I decided to have another go at oils. The results are looking good, but once again I've had to put down the brushes because some urgent bill-paying jobs turned up. It's a strange and paradoxical thing, how my output of paintings has dropped so markedly since becoming a professional artist! Go figure....

Okay, as before, this is going out to everyone who has contacted my by email (mostly via my website). I must re-iterate that if you'd rather not receive this sort of thing in your inbox, please let me know, and I'll remove you from the mailing list.

Ciao 4 now,


December 2005

Greetings fans of Tolkien, Narnia, King Kong, calligraphy, cartography, and art!

This email - a kind of newsletter, I suppose - is going out to those who have made contact with me via my website, or through Red Carpet Tours, or whatever. If you'd rather not receive this sort of email, please let me know, and accept my apologies for cluttering your inbox.

Well, it's been an incredibly busy year for me! The big things have been the King Kong and Narnia films of course, and the LOTR conventions I went to, and also, in the last couple of months, two new projects - more on this later. My website has been online for a year now, and although I have not had time to update it as much as I had hoped, it has been a useful and interesting exercise running it, and it is now an important tool for me, considering the global market that exists for the kind of work I do.

King Kong is on the screens now, and features some pieces of my work. There are various background props - newspapers, diner menus, ship's logbooks - but also some reasonably prominent pieces. I created a marine chart in the style that was current in the 1930s and gives places their older names: Ceylon, Siam, etc. You can see this in close-up when the captain and Denham discuss Skull Island. And then of course there's a hand-drawn map of Skull Island, which has come into Denham's possession. Creating this prop involved numerous meetings with PJ, until I'd finally nailed the right look and an appropriate "gorilla face" stain. Then Universal asked me to create a merchandising/publicity map of Skull Island. Again, numerous meetings with PJ took place, before the final map was approved. But by this stage Skull Island looked totally different to the hand-drawn one that had been shot in the film! So I created several more of these hand-drawn maps, using the new, improved outline of Skull Island, and the one that was eventually selected was shot during pick-ups in July. Some images of these things will hopefully appear on the website soon.

My work on the Narnia film (Stone Table inscriptions, Father Christmas' toy sack calligraphy, arrest warrant for Mr. Tumnus, various maps) was actually mostly done before 2005 (as was most of the KK work), but once again the film studio decided that a merchandising/publicity map of Narnia would be a good idea! So, early in 2005 I was working on the Narnia map. Some of you have seen the first version of this that I made, with its snowflake border and icy colouring - it is a beautiful piece - but it may never be seen by the wider public. My second version, a more traditional "parchment" style, was chosen instead. And then in September, about a week before I left for Germany, Disney's VFX department contacted me for one final rush job - a partial map of Narnia to be used in an effects shot linking some live action sequences. I haven't seen the film yet, but I hear it's good.

The conventions I went to - The Best of Both Worlds, in Canberra, Australia, and Ring*Con 2005, in Fulda, Germany - were real eye-openers. Very different from each other, but both lots of fun, and both successful because of the attitude of the fans. Next I'm off to Pasadena, California, in January, to be a guest at ORC, the One Ring Convention. And then to Japan, for their first LOTR convention, probably in the northern hemisphere spring. I've met some very interesting people at conventions, both fans and fellow star guests.

And I've met many interesting people on the Red Carpet Tours, from all corners of the globe. Some of you I've met several times! The RC organisers seem to have tours booked for every month of 2006 and into 2007 - the road goes ever on and on.

As many of you know, I have two products officially licensed by New Line Cinema now - Invitations to Bilbo's 111th Birthday Party, handwritten with a quill and personalised with your name at the time of purchase, and hand-written Ring Inscriptions on individually hand-coloured paper, mounted behind matt board, ready for framing. The Ring Inscription product is a limited edition - 500 pieces worldwide. I've been selling these products at conventions and on Red Carpet tours, and also via enquiries to the website. To make things easier, I'm going to investigate online sales using credit card, for these items and also for any other future product or individual pieces of artwork.

I thought that the year would slowly wind down and I could make a start on the list of commissions I have outstanding, when suddenly three new projects turned up! Aaarrgh!!! Why does it always happen like this? - everyone has the same deadline for their project!!!

Hasbro (USA) asked me to create some illustrations for their Game of Life - the Pirates of the Carribean version. I had previously done LOTR Monopoly for these guys, so it was nice to work with them again. I hope to be able to show some of the illustrations on the website once the game's released - they're really nice (except the cannibal!).

At the same time (in fact, right up until yesterday) I was working on creating replicas of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document (well, the way it's been since 1840 anyway). This is prestigious work - a joint venture between The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, National Archives, and National Library. A specialist printer has printed the documents (there are nine of them) from transparencies, and I have taken the printouts and cockled them, cut and treated the edges of them, put in the creases, created the holes, tears, mimicked the rat-eaten effects, applied crumbling wax seals, and re-created the stitching that holds the two parts of the main document together. There was neither time nor budget to have me write them from scratch. They originally approached Weta Workshop to do this job, but Weta (correctly) decided that this was more my line of work, so referred it to me.

The other job was doing some handwriting for a very small (15 min), low budget movie called "Dead Letters", being shot locally. Most people, including me, were donating their time for nothing, because the budget was so small. The film is set in NZ during WWII, and my part in it was to write various letters, and lines from letters, as props, and also to write the sign-off line of one letter on camera. My screen debut!!! Actually, the shot is framed right up close to the nib of the pen, and it's actually supposed to be a woman writing it, so the less of my hand you see, the better...

So that's how the year has been for me. And this is where I must apologise to those of you who have been waiting so long and so patiently for commissioned pieces - I hope you can see why they've been delayed. I'm just not in a position to turn down this work when it comes my way, so the commission list gets shunted to one side quite often. But at this point, my calendar is looking pretty clear from about February 7th, so HOPEFULLY I'll be able to start making a dent in the list. For those of you who DID get your commissioned pieces, you now know that you were in the minority.

I send you my best wishes of the season, and hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2006.


Daniel Reeve