Skip to main content

BOOK REVIEW: The Art of NASA: The Illustrations That Sold The Missions

 

The Art of NASA: The Illustrations That Sold The Missions

Anyone interested in the filmmaking process is likely aware of the use of concept art created to bring a director’s ideas to life. The concept artist’s aim is to help the filmmakers explain their film through a visual language. This not only helps those working on the film understand what they’ll be involved in and/or what’s expected of them, it also helps sell the film to studios. Making a film is a huge endeavor requiring financial backing, and concept art helps the money people understand what the director has in mind.

What many might not know is the same idea of creating concept art to sell a project has also been employed by NASA since its inception. It isn’t enough to have missions in mind and goals to achieve. Getting to space demands the support of politicians and people with the financial means to help those missions and goals become reality. It also requires the imagination and enthusiasm of the public to get those ambitions off the ground. From the very beginning, NASA commissioned artists to visually interpret what the space program hoped to accomplish. Leaving Earth behind, landing on the Moon, building space stations, visiting other planets in our solar system, and eventually going beyond the limits of our galaxy.

Over 3,000 pieces of art were created over the years. Some are lost to time, but The Art of NASA: The Illustrations That Sold The Missions features a selection of 200 choice works appealing to the eye, the intellect, and the sense of adventure and exploration. Written by Piers Bizony, The Art of NASA outlines the story of the organization, highlighting both the highs and lows — from the Moon landing, the launch of the Hubble telescope, and the International Space Station, to the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

It isn’t a comprehensive look at NASA’s history, but that isn’t the true purpose of the book. Its intent is turning the spotlight to the stunning imagery created by talented and imaginative artists such as Robert McCall, Davis Meltzer, Martin Marietta, Paul Calle, Russ Arasmith, and so many more. Most of the works depict planned-for missions intended to illustrate a particular purpose. Some depict prior achievements, or speculate on what could be. Others are more technical in nature, such as cross-sections of ships or suits worn by astronauts. All are museum quality, as you can see in some of the sample images below.



 


I’m not an expert in all things NASA or space exploration, but like so many I admire the dedication, ambition, and bravery exhibited by all those who have striven over the years to bring the universe home. I look to the stars and dream. I've watched all the launches and landings I could, grieved the losses and celebrated the successes. Most recently I was hooked on the Space X collaboration with NASA, returning American astronauts to space without depending on outside assistance. Looking at the artwork beautifully presented in The Art of NASA, I felt that familiar feeling of pride stir my heart and imagination. The book is a good reminder that nothing about the space program should be taken for granted or looked at in a blasé way. It’s too important, not only in figuring out our place in the universe but also in determining our future potential.

The Art of NASA is a generously sized coffee table book, clocking in at 320 pages, with 425 color and black and white images. The star is the artwork, and everything about the book is designed around it. That said, along with my earlier acknowledgment of the art being the purpose of The Art of NASA, I do wish there was a bit more history included. It’s a relatively quick read, which is fine, but I wanted more. This shouldn’t really be read as a negative critique, but more as a regret since I enjoyed reading about the different missions, people, and anecdotes. I appreciated Piers Bizony's writing style.

Since we’re not so far off from Christmas and the holiday gift giving season, The Art of NASA would be perfect for anyone in your circle who is fascinated by space exploration. It would especially be ideal for anyone who appreciates art, or is an aspiring artist in their own right. Page after page is filled with inspiration. The Art of NASA: The Illustrations That Sold The Missions takes readers on a grand adventure.

Thank you to The Quarto Group and Motorbooks for generously providing a copy of this book for review purposes.

Contact Lisa at lisad@coffeewithkenobi.com

The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Did Paul Freeman Accidentally Eat A Fly In Raiders of the Lost Ark?

The Famous Indiana Jones Fly In Belloq's Mouth Scene.  Did It Really Happen? I've always wondered if Paul Freeman unintentionally consumed a fly in this scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark?  It's the scene where Indiana Jones shouts down to Bellosh...I mean Belloq and threatens to blow up the ark.  Did a fly go in his mouth?

I remember watching this scene back in the early eighties and my ten year old mind thought he definitely had a snack while filming.  I recall talking about 'flygate' in my school playground at the time and the general consensus with my friends was that Freeman definitely had a sneaky snack.

Paul Freeman talks about the famous 'fly' scene in an interview with TheIndyExperience.com and settled 'flygate:'

This is a bit of a dicey question so don’t get too upset. (Laughs) A movie’s always got bloopers in it, some have a lot, and some only have three or four. And the most remarkable blooper was right before the opening of the Ark scene.…

Star Wars VII Movie Poster - Every End Is A New Beginning

Just saw this Star Wars VII movie poster on Kyle Newman's Facebook feed.  The poster is by Lyndon Berresford and Paul Bateman. 
I am loving this.  Who do you think the two characters are?  Lando and Leia?  Han and Leia's children?

Have you seen other Star Wars VII movie posters?  Let me know.

Rob Wainfur
@welshslider

Pinewood Studios To Expand To The Usa

BBC News have reported that Pinewood Studios are to expand to the USA.  This is great news for the famous studio that is rich in movie history.


UK film studio Pinewood Shepperton has announced plans to build its first sound stages in the United States. The Pinewood Atlanta complex will be built on 288 acres of land south of Atlanta, Georgia, as a joint venture with a US investment company. Georgia has been among the US states drawing film-making away from Hollywood with tax incentives in recent years. The deal is the latest sign of expansion at Pinewood, the home of the James Bond franchise. Earlier this month it announced a joint venture with a Chinese media group, potentially giving it access to the fast-growing Chinese market.
Read the full article here.

THE BEARDED TRIO ON FACEBOOK
THE BEARDED TRIO ON TWITTER
THE BEARDED TRIO ON GOOGLE+