Review by C.J. Bunce
What do the art of Saul Bass, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollack, Russian film posters, Milton Bradley Board games, Aurora model kits, pulp novel cover art like that of Frank Franzetta and Joaquin Pertierra, Gold Key comics, Beatles and Jimi Hendrix album promotional art, and boxing match posters all have in common? They are all part of the imagery and nostalgia that defines what we think of as “retro” today. They also were the inspirations for a new book about 1960s Star Trek.
This month Titan Books is releasing what is probably the most attractive hardcover, coffee table-style book about Star Trek ever created. And it’s incredibly unusual in its contents. Back in 1966 to 1969 when the original Star Trek first aired, what if TV episodes had movie posters to advertise them? And what if you found a box full of these folded posters and published them today? In truth, no one created such a poster back in the 1960s. But that didn’t stop artist Juan Ortiz from taking on a personal project of creating pulp novel style poster art in a contemporary style for each of the 80 episodes of the original Star Trek series in his new book Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz.
How do you come up with such creations? In part, for thirty days back in 2011 Ortiz committed to producing a poster every day of the month. This was enough to sell the concept so he could complete the series. If Ortiz can obtain this quality in such a short period of time, the sky’s the limit for this artist’s career. Mainly designing work under the direction of other creators, Ortiz has worked for Disney, Marvel Comics and Warner Bros. For this project, the ideas and implementation were all Ortiz.
If you are fond of 1960s mod imagery and pop art design, Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz will no doubt deliver your own blast from the past. And each page could be trimmed out and framed–most of these full-page posters would edge-out their Mondo poster counterparts in creating cool, evocative images–some obvious but most subtle in their messages, pulling just the right bits and pieces from each episode. Ortiz’s pop art goes beyond this book–you can buy prints, T-shirts, posters, even wine, emblazoned with Ortiz’s Star Trek images. Check out his website for more information.
Admirers of Ant Lucia’s incredible retro-style art posters and collectors of Mondo posters featuring revisited movie imagery will be sure to be fans of Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz. Ortiz’s book could also serve as a clip art book of sorts for ideas for creating posters, ads, and other signage for art directors and other creators of historic TV series and movies. The design elements are all believable and if you didn’t know these were created in 2011 and 2012 you’d assume these posters were classic film entertainment memorabilia. An added component is the aging of the posters Ortiz applies to make the posters seem fresh out of 45 years of storage, including folded pages, smudges and crinkled paper.
The benefit of Ortiz’s art to the legacy of Star Trek? Ortiz makes some episodes that might not be your favorites and gives them a new reason to watch them again. In particular the use of 1960s design in “What are Little Girls Made Of?,” “Elaan of Troysius,” “Miri,” “The Way to Eden” and “Wolf in the Fold” are among Ortiz’s best impressions of individual episodes.
Production-wise, the color and quality of Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz could hardly be better, printed with brilliant colored end papers, quality paper, and bold colors, all in a sharp hardcover nearly 11×14 volume.