GeekMundo Exclusive Interview: 'Star Trek' Artist Juan Ortiz – GeekMundo

I jumped at the opportunity to interview Juan Ortiz as soon as I first laid eyes on the book, Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, in the mail.  Let’s put it like this, the book is so striking–and this is just the cover–that friends and family who hadn’t watched an episode in years were taken, turning the pages, various “oohs” and “ahhs” coming out of their mouths.

My fondness for The Original Series comes from watching it on the Southern Command Network (SCN) when I was a little head buster in Panama.  My grandfather loved sci-fi and the adventures of Kirk, Spock and the crew never got old.  Ortiz’s book is truly fascinating and such a welcome walk down memory lane.  However, it’s more than that.  The different styles of art (Cubism, Propaganda, etc.) really make this tome stand out.

Look for our video book review today (if it would ever finish rendering in Adobe Premiere Pro), but in the meantime, get to know the man and the mind behind the amazing artistry.

Why an art book for the original series?

I didn’t set out to make a book, not even a poster series. It just turned out that way. My goal was to end the year with some artwork that I could call my own and be happy with.

You’ve done art prints for the Star Trek animated series as well. Do you have plans to tackle other Star Trek franchises like The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine? If so, which artistic approach would you take and would you compile in a book?

I worked on five TNG posters for the 25th anniversary, four Klingon House posters and three recruitment posters currently out there, but I haven’t any actual plans to tackle the other series. Even the animated series was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. Had I known it was the 40th anniversary this year, it would have been on my mind to work on it right after TOS last year.

Speaking of books,this book was an 11/10 for me. Do you have plans for a follow-up book?

No plans.  As I mentioned, I’ve done a few other ST images for CBS but not enough for a book. Maybe a calendar or two?

Your bio is amazing. You’ve worked with Disney and Warner Bros. to name a few. What are some of the differences in the quality and artistry that you’ve noticed in the last 10, 20 years?

I can only speak from my own experiences. When I began working in ’85 it was a more open environment when it came to creativity. It wasn’t so much about “can you draw our characters?” It was more of “what can you bring to the table?” Today I find that there is little room for originality. That makes the art lifeless and boring. If you don’t connect with the customer, you wont move products.

I recognized so many art genres and styles within the book. Russian Cubism, Soviet Art, German and Russian Propaganda influence, etc. You explained why you chose those styles in the book, but for our readers who haven’t read the book yet, what inspired you to create some of the posters in the aforementioned styles?

I have an eclectic taste and if I was to do this, I didn’t want to grow bored working in the same style. There are a lot of great illustrators out there, but after a while even their work starts looking repeated to me.

Is it fair to consider you a Trekkie and if so, what does it mean to you to be one?

It means to be optimistic and accepting of others. I wish I could say that I’m accepting of other’s beliefs, but I’m not there yet when some of those beliefs mean discriminating or killing in the name of a deity.  

You also sell a collection of Star Trek wines on Vinport. That has to be one of the most creative things I have ever seen done by an artist with their work. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Votto wines is partnered with CBS, so CBS gets credit for the wine as well as everything else. The more people that get to see my work the better, though. Whether it’s a book or wine bottle, I’m fine with it. 

What was the creative process for creating the art features in the book?

If [you’re] referring to the sections with the roughs and the index with commentary, those were both Titan’s ideas.

Which [one of the posters] was the most challenging for you to create?

I can’t honestly say that any were challenging. I may have fretted over colors and fonts but for the most part the designs and ideas were easy to come by. I think that’s because I didn’t second guess myself the way I might have had I been working for someone else.

What other projects are you working on that we should look out for in future?

I haven’t looked that far yet. It may not have anything to do with Star Trek nor even sci-fi. There are other shows that I enjoy.

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