If I press really hard into the corners of my brain, the earliest memory I have of Star Wars is a set of Return of the Jedi bed sheets and a Kenner Darth Vader figure, that I would imagine my mother bought for me. I was two years old when Jedi came out, so I’m not entirely sure at what age my parents decided to plop me down to watch the holy trilogy, but I do know that it put a significant stamp on my childhood and has stayed with me these past 30 years.
Flash forward to me as an adult; I now own a pop culture-themed art gallery in the great city of Seattle that some of you may or may not be familiar with, and as a slight nod to one of my favorite companies, I called it Ltd. Art Gallery. This month we put on our second annual Star Wars Art Show, and it is without a doubt my favorite art show that we do. Aside from the obvious reason — that I am a lifetime Star Wars geek — what makes it so special is the reaction of each and every patron that walks in and sees the collection. I can see it in their body language, in their eyes, and in what they say to their friends. They had NO idea that this stuff was out there, and they definitely had no idea how freakin’ cool it is.
I actually get a little jealous of them: their virgin eyes beholding the awesome work of Brian Rood, Cat Staggs, Steve Thomas, or Christian Waggoner for the first time, or seeing the unique and special way each and every artist embraces their love affair with the films. Lucasfilm has always embraced Star Wars as fine art, and my hat really goes off to them for that foresight. I remember going to my first Star Wars Celebration (number 3 in the lovely city of Indianapolis) and walking around the art show and getting my first real glimpse at the possibilities of Star Wars art as a real art form.
Seven years later, in large part due to the efforts of Acme Archives and Lucas Licensing, the Star Wars fine art genre is a juggernaut of awesome. I honestly feel like the artists that are putting out work are in constant competition with themselves and each other, and continue to raise the bar. We have moved well beyond simple poster art (which does have its place, that’s for sure), truly blurred the lines between pop culture and fine art that would make Andy Warhol smile. (Or cringe. Who knows? He was pretty weird.) If you have ever flipped through the Star Wars: Visions book, you know exactly what I’m talking about (and if you happen to have a copy, flip to the back credits, you’ll see my name there…I love showing that off to my friends and family).
I have worked closely with Star Wars fine art for going on seven years now, and I have seen hundreds and hundreds of fine art interpretations of the house that Lucas built. And I’m still not sick of it; in fact, I love it. After everything that has been put out there, I still get excited to see these artists come up with new and unique ways to pay homage to their favorite movies. But more importantly than that, I love the way it makes me feel when I look at them. It immediately transports me back to the wee lad version of James that saw the films for the first time. I love art and I have an immense appreciation for the different craft and styles artists use to create their works. Stylistically, each and every piece I carry in my gallery speaks to me on an artistic level that makes me smile; but with Star Wars art, the subject matter sinks its teeth into my childhood, and consequently who I am as an adult, and doesn’t let go.
So that, in a nutshell, is why I love Star Wars art and why it will continue to have a home at my gallery. And also let us not forget this simple truth…Star Wars is just flat out cool.
James Monosmith is the owner of Ltd. Art Gallery, specializing in the art of pop culture, and a self proclaimed modern geek. He worked for Acme Archives Ltd. as director of business development, but took his love affair with geek art to a new level when he opened his own gallery. You can follow him on Twitter @ltdartgallery or check out the Ltd. Facebook page.