February is the month when Hollywood celebrates the best of the best with one award show after another. It is also the month that the Art Directors Guild awards those behind the scenes with astonishing achievements in art directing and production design. This year’s awards ceremony was an exceptionally special presentation because my great friend, Mr. Herman Zimmerman, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Production Design…
When the subject of designing Star Trek comes to mind, no individual has done more to set the look and aesthetics for the world of Trek than production designer Herman Zimmerman. Herman had his creative hand on two series, (DS9 and Enterprise), as well as five of the 12 Trek motion pictures (The Final Frontier to Nemesis). That's well over 26 years devoted to creating entire worlds, cultures, new civilizations, and countless starships from the inside out. Herman's mark as a designer is without measure and his imagination and talent are equally unrestrained.
Herman is not your average production designer – and forgive me if I write in the present tense. You won’t find him designing the show through his art directors or behind his crew. He is old-school and a hands-on man, always at his board drawing away ideas and construction plans. He has an eye for all of the details and he is always looking for a new way to make things the best they possibly can be. Looking at all of his achievements, one might think that an equally large ego would follow. As a matter of fact, you couldn't be more wrong. Herman always treated his crews, and all the departments, with great admiration, compassion, and respect. You never felt like he was a BOSS when he would talk to you, but more like a fellow artist and mostly like a friend.
When it comes to hiring his crews, he was not all about hiring big names for big names’ sake. He wanted more than that. Talent and the ability to perform the tasks at hand were indeed very important, but Herman spends more time asking you questions about yourself than about your portfolio. What I found to be one of his greatest attributes was that he was not afraid to hire on newcomers to the industry and give them a chance. I saw him do this on many occasions and I have to say that I was one of those new guys he gave a chance to back in 1993. I had met Herman through my friend Phil Edgerly in early 1993, when he was looking for someone to build some Enterprise model kits for a presentation he was doing. I did the job for him with a couple of layout sketches of how the models could be displayed. Herman took note of my art and asked if I would like to work in the art department of Generations.
What a thrill and what a great honor. I said yes and joined his crew a month or so later. What a great project to start on. I had only worked in one art department prior to this one and that was on Steven Spielberg's TV show SeaQuest DSV. My full-time job had always been in the various VFX model shops around town, and the dream of drawing for the movies was quickly becoming more of a reality. I can't thank Herman enough for making that bridge for me to cross over. Generations was such a dream come true, but as soon as the production was over it was back to the model shop and the world of resins and fiberglass!
Oh, it was sad to go back to that toxic world, but it wasn't for long. An opening came available on the DS9 art department and Herman once again called and asked if I wanted to come over and join the gang. The rest is history, and I was so blessed to be a part of his crew for the next 12 years or so. This lifetime achievement award bestowed upon Herman is such a great way to illuminate his brilliant career, but to me it is a small reminder of who he is -- and that is a great, great, friend and mentor. Thank you and congratulations from all of us in the art department whose lives you touched in so many special ways.
And for the much-anticipated addition to the Red Dress Series, may I present Miss Gabby French of Bakersfield, CA. Gabby and I have done two shoots together and we have covered over 12 different pinup themes, from Military to traditional pinup to Star Wars and, finally, the classic red dress from the original Star Trek.
Gabby models in a quite a large variety of themes and styles as well as doing a bit of spokes-modeling for many local SO-CAL events. Her full-time ambitions, besides modeling, are her continuing studies in clinical Psychology. Gabby is a talent on all levels and a blast to shoot with. Stay tuned for more of the elegant Miss French in pieces to come.
So until next time have a good one, and God bless,
John Eaves is veteran artist and illustrator who has lent his talents to too many films and television shows to count. Actually, he's at 60-plus and counting. Over the years, he's made a tremendous mark on Star Trek, as he's worked on The Final Frontier, all four TNG films, DS9 and Enterprise, Star Trek: The Exhibition, Star Trek Online and Star Trek (2009).
Click HERE to check out John Eaves' website, Eavesdropping.
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