While Lucasfilm employees are often busy fulfilling the production and marketing needs of the next Star Wars movie or TV series, there are occasionally opportunities to demonstrate talents beyond those of their day-to-day responsibilities. At a recent employee art show at our San Francisco campus, we displayed an exciting exhibition featuring a diverse array of work in different mediums. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, and models adorned the hallways. We asked the artists responsible for some of our favorite pieces to share a little bit about themselves and the creative process behind their artwork.
Pete Vilmur is a Senior Publicity Writer and Head of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm, and has long been a historian of Star Wars and its cultural legacy. His creation combined a passion for Star Wars and inventing new uses for found objects. Ever the fan of popular culture, it was, as Vilmur describes, “the perfect opportunity to develop an idea for a Star Wars-themed record player.”
The “Jabba-Juke” record player is a functioning craftwork built from a 1950’s salon hair dryer, an early phonograph speaker horn, a whiskey flask, and waffle iron hinge. The remarkable feat of ingenuity is a Star Wars fan’s dream, a one-of-a-kind-piece that made many visitors envious, with some even inquiring if the piece was available for sale in the company store!
Jason Smith is a Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). His daytime work focuses on the creation of digital creatures for many exciting productions, and as Smith himself describes, “I approach my work, personal and professional, from the perspective of my time as an ILM creature TD (technical director) and a student makeup artist. I love creating or portraying organic creatures, human or otherwise.”
Smith’s artwork was a masterful portrait inspired by a photograph by Jasmin Merdan. Drawn entirely with a ballpoint pen, the picture depicts an older man, his visage enriched with wrinkles. As Smith comments, “I think you can tell a lot about a person from the layout of their wrinkles, and this guy obviously smiled a lot.” Layers of ink line bring depth and texture in the skin that is almost tangible. The stunning work was created over a series of months during Smith’s on-set work for ILM, which included time in Phoenix, Detroit, London, and his home in San Francisco.
Martin Murphy is a Texture Supervisor at ILM Vancouver, working with digital paint systems that feature intricate arrays of color, light, and texture. As Murphy comments, “Our world here is [one of] complex computer imagery so it’s a nice break to work with a simple set of tools: a brush, a tube of paint, and a canvas. The rules of light, color, and dynamics are all the same but the journey is slightly different.” Murphy’s creation was a commanding oil painting entitled, “Bliss.”
Taken from a selection of photographs, Murphy had a friend of his pose in a bathtub, where his subject “was a great sport as the water couldn’t be too warm as it would fog up my camera lens.” The painting was a graceful portrait of a woman at rest in the water, the currents swirling her hair in a magnificent pattern, her expression beautifully transcendent and peaceful. A larger work on canvas, the work was created over several months and seems to draw the eye from any distance, its mesmerizing affect bringing new depth to Joseph Campbell’s famous assertion, “Follow your bliss…”
Delivering some of the best in creativity and craft, Lucasfilm employees’ extracurricular work is a testament to the immense talent and skill that is essential to our Company.