I'm a big fan of Tolkien's work and fantasy in general, as can be seen from my ever-growing album of fanart for Lord of the Rings. But of all Fantasy-related fiction I have a special soft spot for Sword & Sorcery in particular. One thing that bothers me with much of existing fanart for Tolkien is how most people aren't doing their own thing with the material at all and just seem to copy the designs from the films. Either that, or then they make anime-inspired bishonen-versions of the characters, which is fine but tends to make everybody look identical. In the worst cases the fanart is nothing but pencil-tracing of promotional photos from the films, which I think is very inhibiting for artistic growth. I know this makes me sound like an elitist, but I'd prefer to see people make a visibly bigger effort.
Because of this I decided that I would try to make designs in my own fanart different from the movies as much as possible, to not just copy everything. As I mentioned earlier, I like Sword & Sorcery a lot, so I came up with the idea of taking inspiration from Frazetta and other artists who've popularized the aesthetics of the genre. I am not comparing myself to Frazetta at all, because my art style is more cartoony and amateurish compared to his. But the general look of badass larger-than-life fighters, who battle hordes of savage enemies and monsters to rescue damsels-in-distress, is appealing to me and I'm curious about how it works when applied to Middle-Earth. How far can the aesthetics of Conan the Barbarian etc. be applied to Tolkien's work, while still being recognizable as such? What do you think?