MTA poster - high goblin activity
High Goblin Activity by William Puck.
Since January, a graphic artist going under the alias “William Puck”, has been pasting mock travel notices all across the New York transit system. He’s up to more than 200 different notices now, and they’ve all used a single theme — Middle-earth. chatted with the mysterious Mr Puck to find out more about himself and his work. Read on, and discover what he had to say — and see some of the examples of his guerilla-style, street art as well.

TORn: Tell us a little bit about yourself. The cliff notes version, I guess, although I am sure you don’t want to give away too much!

I grew up in Connecticut and came to New York City to go to art school back in the mid ’80s. I studied illustration and animation. I’ve been here ever since.

TORn: Why “William Puck”?

I needed a street name for the work I was about to do. The MTA has a strict policy against anyone putting posters in the subways, so using my real name would have been unwise. I wanted a name that was short, identifiable and had a little bit of mischief to it.

I chose the name “Puck” from my favorite William Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was about to misdirect and baffle viewers just like Puck did. And for fun, I added William as my first name.

TORn: How long have you been working as a graphic artist?

I’ve been making art professionally for around 25 years or so.

TORn: How did you become interested in Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit? What drew you to them and what do you like about them?

For your safety... Watch our for Smaug! by William Puck.
I must have been around 11 years old. A close neighbor of ours had a copy of “The Hobbit” on vinyl and gave it to me to listen to. It was a four-album set read by the amazing actor, Nicol Williamson. I listened to it over and over again for about five months. I was hooked. Then the Rankin / Bass animated special premiered on TV in late November 1977. My eyes were glued to the set that night. The design of Gollum was fantastic and his voice — by Brother Theodore — was perfect! I started reading the books soon after, and I re-read them every few years or so. Now I love the films as well.

My love for the books stems from Bilbo’s and Frodo’s journeys. These two unassuming, gentle people are thrown into the biggest threat facing the world. By all logic, they should have been trampled and killed by the forces of evil. But their inner strength, compassion and friendship carry them through to the end, changing the course of the world for good. They give us the greatest gift there is — hope.

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.