Remembering Katie, Inspiring Hope with R2-KT Art, Part 3

Star Wars inspires artists and writers like few other subjects in modern fiction. It is a touchstone for archetypes both ancient and futuristic. In 2005, the R2 Builders Club made my daughter’s wish come true and built her her very own Artoo unit. Since then, R2-KT has been the subject of many artists and the results have been fun, colorful, and often inspiring. Here is my third installment on KT-inspired art, all of which are creative, beautiful, and meaningful to me.

Jair Aranda of the Mexican Garrison of the 501st Legion's R2-KT flyer

Jair Aranda of the Mexican Garrison of the 501st Legion created this wonderful flyer for a coloring contest the Garrison held for kids. Jair took KT where she belongs: in a cartoon-y kids’ world with a squat, blocky body and one big eye that rivals Puss-in-Boots for sheer cuteness. Her middle leg looks like it would make for a good vacuum cleaner attachment! I love how Artoo units are so easily worked in with kids as a subject. No wonder everyone wants one for a pet.

Rich Molinelli's R2-KT Topps Star Wars Sketch Card

2009: Rich Molinelli chose R2-KT as one of his subjects for his series of Topps Star Wars Sketch Cards. As a special nod to Katie, he even included a little lady-bug in the upper-left-hand corner. Rich was especially keen to draw the connection between the cute droid and the little princess who inspired her creation. What I like was that he took KT somewhere between Heavy Metal and 2001: A Space Odyssey, gleaming chrome in space. Something about the layered tones of pink really hearken back to the pulp days of science fiction. It’s an edgy cool version of KT that featured in one of his sketch cards and it is a supreme honor to have a Lucasfilm artist try a hand at depicting her. And to have it unveiled in KT’s home Garrison was extra special.

Azman Sugi of the R2 Builders' R2-KT mosaic

October 2009: Azman Sugi of the R2 Builders sent me this snappy mosaic shot of R2-KT made up of scenes from the Star Wars movies. Just incredible. This technology has been around for a few years but it never ceases to amaze me how cool the effect is to see a mosaic made up of smaller related pics. I love scanning through the pictures and seeing which bits of Star Wars got added and where.

Kirk Leezard Hardtle's R2-KT art

I met Kirk “Leezard” Hardtle through the 501st Legion and never even realized he was an accomplished artist from New Orleans who worked on Mardi Gras floats, inked tattoos, and did freelance work for Dungeons and Dragons. His life’s story made the KT project special to him: “I had been watching the movie, Heart of an Empire. The whole segment on Katie hit home pretty hard with me. In 1988, I lost my two-year-old son Michael as well as my wife-to-be to a drunk driver. Hurricane Katrina had washed away all the physical items I had of them. I watched the story of Katie and R2-KT and knew I had to help keep her memory and spirit alive. So, I created the painting for you and your family to let you all know you are not alone in keeping her spirit alive. Her memory and spirit live through each time I talk about her, but also, so does Michael’s spirit and every child taken too soon.”

Giancarlo Bockos' R2-KT artGiancarlo Bockos comes from the Italica Garrison of the 501st Legion in Italy. One of the two infamous V-Twins, “G” is just as comfortable in his snow trooper armor as he is on his motorcycle jetting around my old home town of Charlotte, NC. In addition to designing the beautiful squad logos for the Galactic Academy, Giancarlo loves to make cartoon renditions of Star Wars characters. He did this design as an homage to the famous VW commercial featuring the little kid Vader trying to use the Force to start his dad’s car. Here he gives KT the dark side treatment and our little droid shows the most emotion I’ve ever seen in an Artoo by giving him a funny look. Now that’s what I call personality!

Steven Miller's R2-KT Topps Sketch CardSteven Miller shared this beautiful two-part Topps Sketch Card set he did, one featuring KT and the other her namesake Katie as a Jedi. Steven wanted to show the little girl behind the droid, and depicted her as the hero we all knew her to be. I’m loving the wily grin on KT’s face. She either has a little dark side in her or she’s loving the fact that Jawas just can’t seem to resist a pink Artoo unit!

Eric Siebeneck's R2-KT patches

Eric Siebeneck approached me a few years back telling me how much R2-KT meant to him as a Star Wars fan. Like me, he’s a father of girls, so the story of Katie struck home for him. His offer to create KT designs for fundraiser patches was a wonderful surprise as he showed off his love for Star Wars and all the characters in it. I was so happy to finally see Yoda hanging with KT. His use of lines and colors and shading create vivid portraits that bring out a whole new dimension to the characters we love from that galaxy far, far away.

Juan Jose Matamoros' R2-KT art

Juan Jose Matamoros from the 501st Legion Ecuador Outpost crashed onto the scene just recently, dreaming up all kinds of beautiful designs of KT for use in a variety of fundraiser patches. Juan impresses me constantly with his fast, bold sketches that he refines into dazzling digital graphics. He’s fond of placing KT in different positions and with different costumes to give her a whole new look. Juan has a lot of kids, so he keeps in touch with his childhood love of Star Wars and has seen them take up the art as well, designing cool shirts and graphics.

Well, that concludes my three-part series on artwork featuring R2-KT. I feel so honored and blessed to know so many talented and wonderful Star Wars fans who have shown me a whole new universe with the characters I grew up loving. It’s been particularly touching to have them honor Katie’s memory and the pink droid that carries on her legacy. With their help, we’ve been able to celebrate a wonderful chapter in Star Wars fandom as well as raise money for Make-A-wish and many other charities. But most of all, it’s their enduring art that festoons my walls and keeps that magic strong that made us love Star Wars in the first place!

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