The Art and Influence of Sci-Fi - Guest Blog Post

Studio Tour artist Allison Bullock is a self-confessed die-hard Star Wars fan. Her own work, while largely influenced by the performing arts, has recently tended more obviously toward the surreal and fantastical. Here is Allison to explain this shift...


I love science fiction, I have since I was young. Very clear memories of endlessly watching episodes of Star Trek mingle with the first time I saw a Star Wars movie, around the age of seven. I spent most of the 90s reading books by classic science fiction authors including Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke and I also read A  LOT of Star Wars novels. Yes, the books that explained what happened after Return of the Jedi before there was another movie trilogy to explain what happened after Return of the Jedi.

For the record, I LOVED The Force Awakens

I think it was the reemergence of unbridled enthusiasm from Star Wars fans that prompted me to start looking at the art of Ralph McQuarrie; last summer, I spent an entire after afternoon doing just that. 

Ralph McQuarrie was the artist and illustrator who gave Star Wars visual form. In 1975, before the original movie went into production, McQuarrie was the first person hired by George Lucas and charged with the task of painting his story. Not all of McQuarrie's ideas made it into the final films, but they have continued to influence the subsequent Star Wars movies and television shows; perhaps it goes without saying that the images are incredible. 

  Original concept art by Ralph McQuarrie:  Note the vast landscape, the almost overwhelming space that creates a sense of foreboding. R2D2 and C3PO aren't quite the same as we know them in this painting. This image of R2 actually inspired the driod 'Chopper' in Star Wars: Rebels television series.

Original concept art by Ralph McQuarrie: Note the vast landscape, the almost overwhelming space that creates a sense of foreboding. R2D2 and C3PO aren't quite the same as we know them in this painting. This image of R2 actually inspired the driod 'Chopper' in Star Wars: Rebels television series.

 Looking over Mos Eisley Spaceport... again, a sense of space is key, the McQuarrie juxtaposes the size of the figure against a vast landscape and adds two suns, to keep the viewer off balance. 

Looking over Mos Eisley Spaceport... again, a sense of space is key, the McQuarrie juxtaposes the size of the figure against a vast landscape and adds two suns, to keep the viewer off balance. 

The most interesting aspect of art is what can influence an artist. Sometimes we're making decisions consciously, but other times something comes out that was never intended. This happened to me earlier last year when I inadvertently painted a concert that I had seen months prior. And it happened to me again when, after looking at a lot of Ralph McQuarrie's art, elements of the surreal began to creep into my collage. 

There aren't any robots or space ships, but there is juxtaposition, a sense of space and something...off about these collages. 

 Reflective (2016)

Reflective (2016)

 It's All in Your Mind (2015)

It's All in Your Mind (2015)

 They're Coming (2015)

They're Coming (2015)

For more information about Ralph McQuarrie's work, visit StarWars.com