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Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz

Juan Ortiz

(Titan; US: Sep 2013)

The classic series has been reimagined with new special effects for high definition video. Kirk, Spock. McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov and Sulu have been reimagined as entirely new people in an alternative timeline in the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies. With Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz,  Ortiz reimagines the marketing for the original series, creating a series of posters that harken back to ‘50s sci-fi flicks, pulp-era magazines, and ‘60s pop-art posters.


Art is truly the center of Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, with all 80 episodes receiving equally creative treatment, even the ones that received little care from Star Trek’s producers. In most cases Oritz highlights key stars, along with writers and directors ,in true movie poster fashion, but it’s the representation of the motifs and themes that really makes this book special. Each Ortiz image, be it abstract, symbolic or realistic, reaches for the heart of the episode.


On his ‘Mirror Mirror” poster, for example, two Spocks stare at each other over the chasm of space-time as deep black outlines, one bearded, one clean-shaven. Although in the actual episode the Spocks never encounter each other’s logical alter egos, the Imperial and Federation Spocks prove pivotal in returning balance to both universes.


Beyond the introduction and the list of episodes at the end of the book, Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz employs few words. But where it does use words, the ones in the introduction and in the episode listings, they are words worth reading. Once you see the images, you will want to know where the artist drew his inspiration, and how he crafted the images.


The introduction features and Interview with Ortiz that provides both biographical and artistic insight. Perhaps even more interesting than the introductory interview are the images that stream below each of its seven pages—the sketches that reveal original concepts for many of the posters. Artists of all ages need to be reminded that art is a process, and that even the greatest of creations begins as a rough sketch before it undergoes the many transformations on the path to becoming a completed work. Even in this day of iPads and Galaxy Notes, Ortiz sketches first with pencil.


The episode listing in the back of the book is a meticulous catalogue of cast, writer, director, air date. What matters here isn’t the material which might be more thoroughly covered at the Memory Alpha Website or the Star Trek Encyclopedia, but the short paragraphs next to each episode, which reveal Ortiz’s inspiration.


Here’s an example he offers about The Naked Time:


This poster depicts the first and last scene of the episode. The skull foreshadows the crewman’s untimely death. I avoided reproducing the hazmat suits made out of shower curtains.


I find the last sentence to be an interesting tell of the real Star Trek fan. The Original Series often suffered from short production cycles, small budgets and kitschy costumes and set decoration, punctuated by brilliant props, solid acting and wonderful scripts. It’s the later list that true fans cherish. They are willing to forgive the birth pangs of Star Trek, its often ridiculed low production values, for the higher values intended by the producers.


Every Star Trek fan expresses his or her fandom in their own way. Ortiz is not only a fan, but a clever and inspired artist who breathes new life into the series. His posters offer other fans fun, new perspectives through which to view the classic Star Trekepisodes. Fans might be inspired to not only buy the book, but also invest in shot glasses, coasters or other derivative works from these posters. Not that this is a commercial endeavor or anything.


Star Trek is a business, and good for Ortiz for getting a slice. Overall, though, I’m not that cynical. I think this passage from the introduction will tell Trek fans where to find Ortiz’s heart:


After creating a third poster, Juan realized he had caught the Star Trek bug. “It was like eating cookies. I couldn’t stop.”


Every Star Trek fan knows exactly what Ortiz means.

Rating:

Daniel W. Rasmus is a writer, poet and strategist who lives outside of Seattle, WA.


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