If you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if Han and Chewie stepped foot on Easter Island or if Vader visited a tropical planet with a babbling waterfall, the new collaboration from the artist SHAG and Geeki Tikis is for you. Giants of the tiki world, Beeline Creative’s Geeki Tikis line is bound to have tiki-fied one of your favorite pop culture characters and SHAG’s name is synonymous with the classic tiki style of mid-century modern art. Now, the two titans have joined forces for the first time to create a unique and quintessential collection that everyone is sure to love — tiki and Star Wars fans alike. From mugs and coasters to swizzle sticks and prints, they’ve got everything you need to enjoy Star Wars tiki in style. The limited-edition collection — focusing on Yoda, Vader, Chewbacca, and Boba Fett — is now available to purchase on GeekiTikis.com. StarWars.com recently sat down with Brandon Giraldez, president and founder of Beeline Creative, and SHAG (also known as Josh Agle) to gain a little more insight into the making of this collection and what exactly it means to turn iconic Star Wars characters into tiki works of art.
StarWars.com: How did this collaboration come to be — have you both been wanting to do this for some time?
Brandon Giraldez: Josh and I go to Tiki Oasis every year, which is an event in San Diego, and it’s all about tiki culture, pop Polynesia and Island lifestyle. I had purchased a book from Josh there and he was at his booth autographing the books, so I introduced myself and explained a little bit about my company and the Geeki Tikis brand. I said point blank, “I love your work, I’d love to work with you, is there any chance of a collaboration?” His response was, “I wouldn’t be opposed to it” [Laughs], so the day I got back I emailed his team. That was back in August of 2018 so it’s been quite a while that we’ve been working on this.
Josh Agle: I actually think I met Brandon at his booth before that. I stopped by and complimented him on the mugs but it’s possible I got the timeline wrong [Laughs].
StarWars.com: How did you decide which characters to focus on for this collection? Were you given any direction from Lucasfilm?
Brandon Giraldez: We basically put this program together before we even pitched it to Lucasfilm because we wanted to get them excited about it. Josh did a very cool illustration of Darth Vader and a portion of a scene, showcasing what the packaging would look like. I believe he suggested that Chewbacca, Boba [Fett], and Yoda would look really great and the artwork would be a nice complement to the packaging. I think that’s how it went, is that right Josh? [Laughs]
Josh Agle: Yeah, we decided upon the ones that were the most tiki-ish, as it were, the ones that would translate best towards tikis and I think that’s how we settled on those four.
StarWars.com: Tell us about how you became Star Wars fans?
Josh Agle: Well, I’m older than both of you by far [Laughs] so I can actually remember when the original film came out. I have been a fan since I saw the first movie trailer in 1977. I even remember the movie that I was at when I saw the trailer — it was Jabberwocky. This was March 1977. They showed a trailer for Star Wars and I mean, imagine you’ve never seen Darth Vader, or a stormtrooper, or a TIE fighter. Then suddenly, it’s all there on the big screen, all in one minute. I had no idea what it was but I knew it was going to be the coolest movie I’ve ever seen. So I stood in line the very first day it opened in May 1977 and got the first matinee. I was one of the first few Americans to see the movie and I was right, it was the best movie I’d ever seen. Although, one little side note: at the end of the trailer when the title came up, Star Wars, I remember thinking, “What a dumb name for a movie!” It’s like calling it Car Chase. [Laughs]
Brandon Giraldez: I was born in 1974 so I was a little young to see the movie. But, as a child of the ‘80s, when The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi came out, I was an instant fan. I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars, when the prequel and sequel trilogy came out, I was there opening day. When I started designing products in 2014, I got to dive into all the tertiary characters, the environments, the vehicles, a lot more. I’ve always been a Star Wars fan, but now I’m probably a crazy uber fan that knows too much [Laughs], but it’s been fun just learning more and more about the universe.
StarWars.com: Do you have a favorite character, planet, or vehicle?
Josh Agle: I find myself leaning towards A New Hope because that’s the one that just had so much impact on me. So, Tatooine is sort of the ultimate Star Wars planet. You got the Jawas, Tusken Raiders, the whole Skywalker family, Obi-Wan, all there on that desert planet. That to me is my favorite Star Wars environment.
Brandon Giraldez: For me, I’m more of an Empire Strikes Back guy. There’s just so many characters and locales that were introduced for the first time: Yoda, Cloud City, Dagobah, tauntauns, wampas. There was just so much going on in that movie, it’s just still my favorite Star Wars movie.
Josh Agle: I’d like to add that I had the surprise of Vader being Luke’s father ruined for me. Spoiler alert: some kid told me. [Laughs]
StarWars.com: Oh no! I grew up a lot later after the films came out so for me, it was just like a fact of life that you knew. Like the sun is yellow, the sky is blue, Vader is Luke’s father. I don’t even remember being told that.
So pivoting slightly, how do you approach tiki design? What are some essential style elements or techniques?
Josh Agle: It’s probably a little different for Brandon than it is for me. When I’m designing a tiki it’s gotta be symmetrical down the middle, it’s gotta be based on a pole, it’s gotta be a round, tall cylinder, because the original tikis were carved out of palm tree trunks. I generally put a little bit of wood graining in mine so it looks like natural material. And for the way it’s carved, it’s kind of a primitive carving style so you can’t get super-detailed because they were just using lava rock axes and things like that to carve them originally. So, you have to hold yourself back sometimes and think, “How would a Pacific Islander carve this out of a palm tree?” That’s where my mind goes.
Brandon Giraldez: When it comes to tiki, what we do is infuse it with pop culture. So we take those key elements of say, Vader’s helmet and his chest plate, and then we reference tiki statues, carvings, the like, and infuse all of those elements together. So sometimes it’s the posture that they’re in, or the wood grain, or the colors that make it tiki. I would say it’s a combination of taking bits and pieces from traditional tiki and Polynesian culture and infusing it with the hottest pop culture characters on this planet. [Laughs]
StarWars.com: So on to the important question: How do you tiki-fy Star Wars? Could you walk us through how you approached the design of a mug, maybe Yoda’s?
Josh Agle: Yoda is such a round, squat character and he was actually the toughest one. The others really do lend themselves to being a more elongated, tall sort of thing like a mug. Yoda’s a little round face, squat guy. So obviously we had to elongate his face longer than it is in real life which gives him a new shape. His ears, they’re kind of the quintessential thing about Yoda that make you go, “Oh yeah, that’s Yoda!” And then the color obviously, and the heavy brow with the ridges, that goes into what Yoda is so those were the characteristics that needed to be preserved.
Brandon Giraldez: It really does work so well, though! Josh took the key elements of him but it’s a completely new iteration of Yoda. We’re the same way. We try to take the key iconic elements of a character, their accessories or outfit, like Chewie’s bandolier or crossbow, Vader’s helmet, and don’t mess with that too much, but are still able to take some liberties. We want it to be tiki but still instantly recognizable as the character.
StarWars.com: How do you approach designing in 2D versus 3D?
Josh Agle: For me, the 2D is much easier, because I think in two dimensions. If you look at my art it’s very flat, not a lot of depth. So I always have a hard time translating 2D to 3D. When I have to do drawings for the mug, you have to do a drawing for the front, the top, the sides, the bottom, and by the second side I’m always like, “Ah, I’m so over this thing!” [Laughs] However, when it came time to design the packaging, I was super into it. With the packaging, you take what you drew in 2D, and then created in 3D, back into 2D again, which for me offers a lot more options. I had such a blast designing the packaging for the mugs and it was from that that we came up with the idea to do the prints.
StarWars.com: In regards to the prints, how did you approach the background environments? The Yoda one is clearly on Dagobah but the others seem a little bit more ambiguous.
Brandon Giraldez: That’s all Josh’s imagination!
Josh Agle: It’s kind of fun to go outside of the canon a little bit and invent our own little worlds for these things to exist in. Everything is intentional. The reaction Chewie and Han are having to the sort of monolithic statues was how I thought perhaps Europeans would have reacted when they saw Easter Island for the first time. But then, at the same time, in the upper right corner, you see the legs of an AT-AT coming into frame, so that means there’s something else going on as well. All of them have that element of something else going on somewhere in frame. Obviously, the Dagobah one is something right out of the movie. Vader is waiting there in the shadows to have his little interpersonal interaction with Luke. The other ones are a little bit more ambiguous and non-canon.
Brandon Giraldez: And with the Dagobah print, it’s just a cool Easter egg. It takes you a moment to realize there are four characters inside the print.
StarWars.com: Favorite mug and print?
Brandon Giraldez: My favorite mug is Boba Fett. Aside from the extra pop of color on his helmet, we also added a mixed media element, which was a metal swizzle stick. Josh had brought up the idea that it would be really cool to do a removable swizzle for his range finder. We worked with a mutual friend in the “tiki community,” Michael Grider of Grider Adventure Art, who handmade the metal swizzle stick that says, “He’s no good to me dead.” It just complements his character well. For the prints, I think the Chewie/Han and Dagobah prints are my top two. I love them all so much, but I love seeing the vehicles and the nod to Easter Island.
Josh Agle: My favorite mug is Chewie because he’s the most tiki-ish, he just looks tiki. For the prints, I don’t think I have a favorite. I think I like them all.
Anina Walas is an associate producer at Lucasfilm with the Star Wars online team and writes the occasional article for StarWars.com. She loves pretty much everything Disney, great weather, traveling, making and eating really good food, and of course, Star Wars. Although Admiral Akbar was her favorite character, the Child from The Mandalorian has definitely made its way into that top slot.
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