After 703 episodes, 10 films, an animated series and a fairly successful revision that’s three movies deep and earned over a billion dollars worldwide, it’s apparent Star Trek is a pop culture phenomenon with considerable staying power. Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the future recently celebrated its golden anniversary and Titan Books released a passionate visual retrospective for a long-standing franchise that’s meant so much to so many.
To put it as succinctly as possible, “Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years” is a gorgeous art book that celebrates the vibrancy and diversity present in every Trek series with a collection of artists that proudly exhibit their beautifully unique take on Roddenberry’s boundless universe.
The 112-page hardcover is covered end to end with impactful style, featuring a mix of established and promising illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and mixed media artists. Each piece featured is a testament to Trek’s influence over generations with every artist showcasing their love for the venerated franchise in wholly unique and dazzling visions.
“50 Artists 50 Years” is brimming with paintings and illustrations that are noticeably inspirited by Trek’s eclectic design of zany aliens, post-modern design and its intricate, tech-heavy models favored in the later series. With every arrangement are brief interviews that provide insight on the artists’ motivations, choice of medium, as well as their favorite Trek moments. After reading through the art book, no one can question any of the contributors’ love for Trek. Additionally, you’ll also discover that no one else loved Voyager more than Ulises Farinas. He’s still really really upset about what happened to Tuvix. If you don’t remember, there’s always Netflix.
Few of the works feature the Original and Next Generation crews in the popular alternate poster fashion, which are impressive and exciting in their own right. However the inclusion of mixed media and abstract artists was a truly inspired decision by CBS and gives more credence to the effect Star Trek had on a multitude of people across the board.
Amid “50 Years” are a few creative takes on Trek’s memorable spacecraft and vehicles. From Calvin Ma’s colorful rendition of the Starship Enterprise to Alton Takeyashu recreating Nimoy’s 1964 photograph with his Buick and Neal Smith creating a borg cube entirely from Hot Wheels, “50 Years 50 Artists” proudly represents the medley of techniques and disciplines within art. Each piece holds a personal, nostalgic value for every creator but one in particular, South Korean installation artist Hyunju Kim, perceives Star Trek as something more ethereal and profound. Known for her extensive works involving thread, Hyunju herself states that “each thread is a symbol of time. If a thread changes color over time, it goes to show that time still resides in it”. Inspired by the scene in 2009’s Star Trek when Spock Prime meets his younger alternate counterpart, Hyunju bridges her prevailing theme of time with that scene when the elder hopes to impart his wisdom to the succeeding generation. Ultimately, Hyunju portrayed Spock as a being whose quest for knowledge and unfaltering logic transcends space and time.
One of the more impressive and distinct works of art in “50 Years” is a submission created by Johnson Tsang. Unlike his contemporaries, Tsang’s work – ‘Looking For A Star’ – boldly goes beyond the typical views one equates to the series. Without spoiling Tsang’s amazing work, his piece was made soon after the death of Leonard Nimoy (whose photography is featured in the hardcover). Drawing from his love of the actor and his iconic character, Tsang fashioned a work unlike what many would associate with Roddenberry’s “wagon train to the stars”.
This art book is a true labor of love and with every turn of its pages, the more inspired and contented you’ll feel while drinking in every detail. Every artist involved succeeded in what is the core of their craft: to evoke an emotional response. No doubt if you are a hardcore Trekkie, the hardcover will compel you to instantly recall your fondest memories of Kirk, Picard and the many other unforgettable characters that shaped our excitement for the future.
Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years is available now from Titan Books.
Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years