So far this year we have seen Star Trek makeup with MAC's new collection, several awesome cosplayers, and got the chance to attend the Star Trek 50th Anniversary art exhibit, Star Trek: 50 Artists, 50 Years! Not only did we get the chance to speak with Adam Nimoy, son of the famous Spock as played by Leonard Nimoy, we got to see some of his favorite art pieces in the exhibit.
One in particular is by Paul Shipper, a long-time Star Trek fan whose artwork is inspired by movie posters from the 1980s. We caught up with him on the exhibit floor to talk about his love of the franchise, how he got chosen, and his thoughts on Star Trek's longevity.
PopWrapped: When did you first get into Star Trek?
Paul Shipper: I've been a fan of science fiction for as long as I can remember. Fantasy as well. But Star Trek is my first big introduction to science fiction, and it's going to be in front of you at some point, whether you like it or not. The first series I would have seen was Next Generation and then the movies, obviously. So that what my first foray into Star Trek. It had a profound effect on me—as did Star Wars, since they came out around a similar time. So being asked to do what we artists love to do for a celebration of 50 years of Star Trek is phenomenal.
PW: Have you always done art in this particular style, or is this a new medium?
PS: My inspiration came from collecting movie posters in the 80s and 90s, pretty much. One particular artist, Andrew Struzan, was a huge inspiration to me, and it was because of him I found out what an illustrator was. I used to collect posters on my walls and one day realized they were all by the same person. There was no Internet back then, just a lot of books with sometimes vague information. These days it's completely different, but back then.... But the style that I work in is very reminiscent—he was like a teacher to me, but not really. I just studied his artwork with a magnifying glass on my bedroom floor and figured out how he did it—it was like magic. Art is like magic: it comes out of somebody and onto a sheet and you don't always know how they did it. I like that.
PW: Were you approached specifically for this show, or was it a general pool of artists?
PS: I think they actually hand picked the 50. I've done some work with CBS before and done some things for Star Trek, so I was always on their radar. So I think they wanted to have something of my style representing star trek. They must have whittled it down from a lot of people and we're very honored. This is not something we take lightly because it is such a monumental thing—50 years for anything is amazing.
We also got the chance to talk with Gary Pullin who, apart from being a Star Trek and science fiction fan, made his debut as an artist in the horror genre.
PW: When did you first know you were into the Star Trek franchise?
Gary Pullin: When I was a kid I watched it on TV. I watched it in the late 70s late at night in the dark, the colors of the show beaming into my living room. I just loved the whole retro vibe to the show. But I'm mostly known for the horror genre, so it's really cool to step outside of that and do science fiction pieces. So when they asked me to do this show I was blown away, that a) they found me, and b) that I was even considered because of my history in the horror genre. So it's cool to see them recognizing my work outside of horror.
PW: But on top of all the horror, you've done personal projects and individual pieces in Star Trek and science fiction?
GP: Absolutely. They recognized that I was a fan, so it was a no-brainer when they asked me to do it. I was blown away and really happy to contribute to something like this.
PW: Your piece reminded me of that episode of Charmed where the Halliwell sisters realize they have demon doubles in the world on the other side of Gideon's mirror.
GP: Sure, and that episode may have been inspired by "Mirror, Mirror." I have to say, too, when I was a kid I identified with villains. And "Mirror, Mirror" is a really interesting episode: Spock has a lot of duality to him—he's half human, so he would have an evil side. I think we all have a dark side to us, but how much do we let out and how much do we keep to ourselves? I think the episode really spoke to me because he is playing a villain—and he plays a great villain! He plays Spock really well but he also plays the villain version of Spock really well. It's that duality that I gravitated towards.
PW: Even from our point of view, full Vulcans (being completely rational all the time) could be seen as morally ambiguous people. Their decisions may be rational, but we may not see them as the right or good decision.
GP: Yeah, and I think that episode really speaks to that. It has a moral message to it. The 1960s original series reminds me of the Twilight Zone, which I gravitate towards as a horror fan. That's probably because Richard Matheson wrote some episodes. I just wanted to go back to the original series and where it all started. My other idea was to do a Wrath of Khan poster—I'm a huge fan—because it's dark, too. It has a lot of dark elements. So it was hard to decide which way to go when they asked me. Where do you start? The universe is so vast! So I just distilled it to one episode from when I was a kid: "Mirror, Mirror."
PW: You mentioned Wrath of Khan. How do you feel about the older film versus the new Benedict Cumberbatch version?
GP: I think they're doing a great job with the new Star Trek. I think the casting is very good; I think they're referencing the original series in interesting ways. I hear the new movie is great, although I couldn't get tickets. But yeah, I think they're doing it right. I think they're doing it in a way that captures the essence of the characters from the original series, and bringing it into the now. It's exciting. It's exciting to see this series maintain such longevity—and it's going to keep going. Fifty years from now we're still going to be talking about Star Trek. If they do it right, that's all that matters. I'm excited to see Star Trek Beyond.
We had a great time at the exhibit! It was interesting seeing artists from around the world come together under a common fanbase and support a franchise through paint, sculpture, cereal, and other mediums! You can see some (but not all) of these installments on our Instagram page!
Stay tuned for more San Diego Comic-Con coverage!