Remembering Katie, Inspiring Hope with R2-KT Art, Part 1

Star Wars has spawned a universe of incredible artwork, both licensed and fan-created. Since 2006 when R2-KT became a reality thanks to the hard work of the R2 Builders organization, the pink droid has become something of her own celebrity. The fan community has embraced a cute pink droid that carries on in the memory of her namesake — my daughter, Katie — and crusades for awareness of pediatric illnesses and fund-raising for worthy charities.

I thought it would be cool to showcase the art of R2-KT’s fans. Some incredible stuff has been done in the pink palette, and ties in nicely with other “think pink” campaigns that all have one thing in common: hope. What better notion than hope from a saga that started with A New Hope?

Star Wars artist Tsuneo Sanda and R2-KT

Star Wars artist Tsuneo Sanda and R2-KT.

Star Wars artist Tsuneo Sanda has been a big supporter of my family since Katie was diagnosed with cancer. Her story touched his heart and he has created a number of works in her memory. He wrote on his own web site the following thoughts: “It’s been almost a year since lovely Katie-chan passed away. I do not have actual feeling that she died because, we can see photographs of her shining face on the net in the world…Please see the paintings of Katie-chan I imagined. I expressed her loveliness in three paintings in my own way. May her soul rest in peace.” Sanda-san sent us three custom pieces featuring Katie with her droid and one rare copy of his enormous tableau of Star Wars characters where he repainted R2-D2 pink! Truly magical, just like everything Mr. Sanda does. You can see the incredible work of Sanda on his site, www.sandaworld.com.

Allison Sohn R2-KT art

Allison Sohn imagined KT as the center of a LOT of Stormtrooper attention: good news or bad?

Years ago I created the Droid Hunt game to raise the excitement level at conventions and allow convention attendees a chance to interact with Stormtroopers. It’s been an incredible hit. So when R2-KT appeared at San Diego Comic-Con in 2007 to herald the release of her action figure, the 501st featured her on their Droid Hunt badge for the show. Allison Sohn was cool enough to lend her talents in creating the badge, which she poses with here. She is a lovely person and has a fantastic take on life. I’m sure she and Katie would have really hit it off. You can see more of her work on her website, www.allisonsohn.com.

_art-cook

2008: Katie Cook imagined KT having some quality princess time.

Artist Katie Cook created this irresistible caricature, presented to me at Motor City Comic Con 2008. The original, like much of the art showcased here, hangs on the wall next to R2-KT herself. She featured it on her blog, saying, “I had the honor of doing this piece…the R2-KT story is so touching…if you aren’t familiar with it, I highly suggest you read up on it!” You can learn more about her work at www.katiecandraw.com.

Dan Bergren R2-KT art

Dan Bergren had KT popping up all over the Topps Sketch Card circuit.

February 2009: Dan Bergren of the 501st Legion posted these pics to show what he’s done to commemorate our ‘lil R2-KT in licensed Topps sketch cards. “This was literally the last card I did for the set, literally at the last minute before…deadline.” Next to it is the painting he did for the Comic Con Droid Hunt 2008. “These pieces are very special to me. As both an artist, and a member of the 501st, I was deeply inspired by Katie’s story. I wanted to honor her in the best way that I could. And since WALL-E is my other favorite robot, I just couldn’t resist putting the two of them together.” In 2010 Dan did yet ANOTHER sketch card featuring R2-KT for the Star Wars Galaxy Fifth Series. His comments on it: “Since R2-KT is now officially part of the Star Wars universe, I knew I wanted to create another Galaxy sketch card with her image. To contrast the cartoon style of the Galaxy 4 sketch, I went with a more realistic version, using R2-D2 for reference. And this time, I couldn’t resist adding a tiny ladybug to keep her company.” You can see more of Dan’s work at http://www.danbergren.com/.

R2-KT Star Wars art

Left to right: Julien, Christopher Weaver, Gina Canady. All masters of their own medium.

Fan art of KT has been super impressive, too! While visiting the French Garrison in 2009 I was surprised as Julien, one of their members, painted this on canvas right before my eyes and then presented it to me (above, far left). Wow. KT at the Eiffel Tower!

July 2008: Freelance artist Christopher Weaver contacted me, wanting to do a character key of R2-KT (above, center). Character keys are reference pictures done for animation characters. I thought the idea was a great one, especially considering R2-KT’s upcoming appearance in the Clone Wars movie. From Chris: “I enjoyed the idea of the character keys that Acme was producing…I decided to do my version, for my daughter…Albin, thank you for creating R2-KT. It’s a wonderful thing that you have done, and I’m sure it means so much to many kids and families.”

September 2009: Gina Adler first met R2-KT at ShevaCon earlier in the year and the little droid left such an impression that Gina felt inspired to put something on canvas to capture the emotion (above, far right). Later at Dragoncon in Atlanta she presented her original work of art to our family to a roaring crowd of 501st Legion members. The beauty of the print was enough to send the family into tears (the good kind!). To see Katie standing alongside her namesake, smiling in a field of ladybugs, is an image that transcends the simple grace of artwork. It reaches pure magic.

Denise Vasquez's R2-KT Topps Star Wars Galaxy V hand-painted return sketch card

Denise Vasquez’s R2-KT Topps Star Wars Galaxy V hand-painted return sketch card

January 2010: When I met Randy Martinez and Denise Vasquez in Kyoto Japan during Celebration Japan they were the coolest people and very friendly to all their fans. As Star Wars artists their talents are obvious. Denise surprised everyone by including R2-KT in her set of Topps Star Wars Galaxy V as a hand-painted RETURN sketch card, which was auctioned on eBay for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That illustration of R2-KT will also be included in the “Sketch Card Mania” book for Impact books & will be the ONLY Star Wars Galaxy V sketch card in the book! Yep, not only is Denise gorgeous, talented, and an inspired musician, writer, and artist — she’s also very cool. How often does that happen? You can see more about Denise at her website, http://www.denisevasquez.com/.

Michael “Locoduck” Duron's R2-KT art

Michael “Locoduck” Duron just thought a pink R2 unit would look cool. Later he was glad to learn there was a real one out there!

Michael “Locoduck” Duron commemorated KT without even knowing it back in 2010. He wrote, “This piece was originally simply a donation piece for the Marla Bea Benefit auction…The requirement was that we draw a strong female-type from pop culture and feature the color pink. [While] at Mini Megacon checking out the exhibitors…I came across the Florida Garrison of the 501st Legion…I noticed a pink Artoo action figure at their booth, and…she had a name, R2-KT. She is an ambassador of sorts, making appearances at hospitals and functions, and continuing to bring more awareness to cancer…After hearing Katie’s story I knew I had made the right choice to draw this piece…it is very hard to now part with this piece. But the positive side is that it will help to bring us in someway closer to saving future Katies.” You can see more of Michael’s work at his website, http://www.locoduck.com/.

There are many more pieces in the R2-KT Art Gallery, which I hope to feature in future blog articles here. The love and generosity I feel from these amazing artists pouring their talents into a concept full of so much hope is just amazing. It’s truly wonderful seeing what can happen when fans embrace the Pink side of the Force!

You can check out even more masterpieces featuring R2-KT on KT’s web site.

 

 

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