Set your bulging bug eyes on these incredible images, stemming from U.K. based illustrator Richard Wilkinson’s series, Insects From A Far Away Galaxy, which renders life-like bugs as our favorite Star Wars characters, and then scientifically names them, replete with clever Latin roots.
The series will also be part of the artists’ planned book, Arthropoda Iconicus Volume I, which will explore the more insectual side of other pop culture characters from Pokemon, Marvel, Disney, and beyond. (We’re hoping Star Ship Troopers won’t get swatted away in the process.)
So why bugs? We asked the artist just that via email recently. “I’ve always been a big fan of natural history,” says Wilkinson. “I think when I was a kid it represented exploration and discovery and a window into the exotic. And I think the collection and classification of things is a really fascinating and very human trait that has driven us forward as a species to explore and understand the universe.”
Wilkinson goes on to mention that he’s always been “enamored of the style” of historical Natural History illustration in all those old books. “The ways artists and biologists have found to represent all that diversity of form and color and surface is really exciting to me as an illustrator.”
Since bugs are just as alien-looking and diverse as some of the characters embodied in Star Wars, the two make for good bed(bug)fellows. “George Lucas was very clever at making characters memorable and recognizable using simple and very distinctive details,” says Wilkinson. “One way to show just how iconic and recognizable these characteristics are was to transplant them onto another species to show that they can still be recognized out of context. Hopefully, this way I can celebrate both the incredible diversity and design of arthropods while at the same time paying homage to the genius of the design of the characters and vehicles of the Star Wars canon."
Using his own method of classification, “a similar process to Natural History classification,” Wilkinson often breaks down his subjects into families as he’s figuring out how to represent them. “For example, the human 'light-side' characters without helmets are mainly based on staphylinidae (Rove beetles), the troopers are wasps etc.,” says Wilkinson. “So I decide which category (or ‘family’) it falls into and then examine what it is about that ‘species' that identifies it as different from the others.”
Then it’s a matter of “sketching and editing and pushing and pulling until I get the right balance between insect and subject,” says Wilkinson. “I want the subject to be hidden at first and then to reveal itself to the viewer after a little exploration. I like the reward you can get with that moment of recognition as a viewer - that Aha! moment."
Wilkinson notes that part of what motivates his art is that bugs are “a bit unloved - understandably so sometimes!” Well, it’s hard not to love these ones, right?
Check out a smattering of Wilkinson's stellar work in the gallery below, then head over to Wilkinson’s site to keep up with his oeuvre and get some limited edition prints.