Friday, October 21, 2011

Echo Base News interviews Spencer Brinkerhoff III

I have recently interviewed Spencer Brinkerhoff, who is a well known Star Wars artist, he has also done work in other genres.

Echo Base News: What is your favorite thing to draw?
Spencer Brinkerhoff III: I really do enjoy drawing Star Wars. There are so many characters in that universe, there seems to be no end to the different characters to draw. I think that I enjoy drawing Leia the most because she's the Princess with an attitude.

EBN: Do you have a favorite piece of work that you have done?
SB: My limited edition print for Celebration Japan is probably my favorite piece so far. It really represents the beginning of my relationship with Lucasfilm and the start of my illustration career. I have so many stories and memories tied into that piece.

EBN: How did you first come across Star Wars?
SB: I was 4 years old when "A New Hope" hit the theaters. I'm pretty sure that I went to see the movie, because I had every single action figure. I even dressed up as Luke for Halloween and used my Mom's old curling iron as a light saber. One of my best movie memories came from "Return of the Jedi". We were on a family vacation out in California and went to see the movie. During the show, the whole audience was cheering and shouting. I had never been to a movie with such a vocal crowd, and I thought that must be the way that all California audiences were, but it left quite an impression. It showed me how much the Star Wars films had an effect on the viewers.

EBN: Do you take commissions and how does one contact you?
SB: Most of my commission work is done at the different shows that I go to, but I do have an online store. It has an area for sketch cards and shadow boxes, as well as a few of my prints.

EBN: What projects have you worked on for Lucasfilm?
SB: I started out as a sketch card artist with the Topps Trading card company working on a set of cards for Lord of the Rings in December of 2007. That was followed by a set for Indiana Jones, but to work on that set I needed to submit art samples and be approved to work on Lucasfilm properties. That label of being a Lucasfilm approved artist led to work on other card set such as Clone Wars, Star Wars Galaxy Series, Empire Strikes Back, and more Indiana Jones sets. My work on these cards served as an introduction to the Star Wars family and an invitation to produce my very first Limited Edition print for the Star War Celebration Japan in 2008. I produced a second print through Acme Archives in 2009 and then became one of five contributors to the Star Wars Artist series on Zazzle. I completed a third print for the Star Wars Celebration in 2010 and designed the Darth Vader and Princess Leia BBQ apron for the Star Wars Shop.

EBN: Do you have a collection and what are your favorite things in it?
SB: There are so many things to collect in the Star Wars Universe, I actually avoided collecting for quite some time. Then, one fateful day in 2004, my mom bought the Galactic Heroes Millennium Falcon playset for my son' span>

EBN: Do you have any plans for conventions such as Star Wars Celebration VI?
SB: I'm scheduled to appear at Star Wars Fan days on October 8-9th, and then in Las Vegas at the Vegas Valley Comic Book festival on Nov. 5th.

EBN: Besides Star Wars what other work do you do?
SB: Besides Star Wars, I've created a print for the Back to the Future 25th Anniversary event, a print and illustrations for a Beatles themed art book, some Transfomer prints based off of my Burt Reynolds Edition Trans Am, and hope to be finalizing some projects for the Princess Bride.

SB: On a side note, I thought I'd share some Echo Base information with you. In preparation for the 30th Anniversary of Empire Strikes Back and Celebration V, I contacted Lucasfilm to begin discussions about the warning on the door in Echo Base. Here's some excerpts from our emails...

Question - "I've been looking at images of the deleted scene from ESB as well as the Echo Base scene in the movie and trying to figure out what the sign on the door says. I know that it's supposed to be a warning sign that they've trapped some Wampas back there, but I can't make out the writing. I wondered if this was made before the Aurebesh language was completely defined and the sign is just gibberish."
Answer - "The Aurebesh alphabet wasn't defined until after the movies had been released. Only reason that there is any readable Aurebesh at all is because of changes made to the DVD release (changing the word POWER on the tractor beam control to Aurebesh.) I am unaware of us ever trying to decipher the symbols on the warning sign. It's definitely not Aurebesh."
Question - Thanks for the information. So as I make up this sign and submit it to licensing, I'm thinking that I should be somewhat vague. I think that the wampa was called an ice creature in the shooting script, and there was really no way for the Rebels to know that they were called "Wampas".
Maybe something as generic as, "Do Not Enter!" "Warning!" "Danger!"
Answer - In the upcoming Blueprints: Rebel Alliance, we say that the symbol on the warning indicates Lethal Hazard: DISMEMBERMENT, though we don't address the text specifically. On the sign, the text at the top looks like a computer font that reads: \"4(-]\F01 which isn't much help. The white text across the symbol looks like it may have been handwritten. I'd agree that it wouldn't make sense for it to say wampas, because no one would know exactly what "wampa" means. Based on these discussions, I was able to create and submit to licensing the following design. "Lethal, Stay Out" - is now available on the Star Wars Artist series store at Zazzle.

UPDATE: Spencer Brinkerhoff is currently developing a comic book app for the iPad called ShadowBox Comics. Be sure to visit his website at

Interview by Jim Slowes

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