The Juan Ortiz Original Series Art Prints for December are available now, and for this month's quartet, Ortiz has turned out retro posters capturing the essence of "Errand of Mercy," "The Changeling," "Return to Tomorrow" and "The Deadly Years." StarTrek.com caught up with Ortiz right after Thanksgiving for an interview in which he detailed the creation of each poster, discussed meeting Nichelle Nichols at the opening night of his The Art of Juan Ortiz Exhibition at the Paley Center for Media, and shared an anecdote about drinking some Star Trek Wine -- with the bottles emblazoned by his art -- with his Thanksgiving dinner.
Which of the November TOS Art Prints from November elicited the strongest response -- what was your sense of why it did so?
ORTIZ: I think it was "A Private Little War." The mugato is as popular as the Gorn, when it comes to Trek aliens/creatures.
Since we last spoke, the exhibit of your art opened in L.A. How did you enjoy your big night? Meeting fans/signing the book? Seeing your prints on the wall? Chatting with Nichelle Nichols?
ORTIZ: The big shock was that Nichelle Nichols was at MY reception. I could not have dreamt this any differently. We spoke briefly and I was pleasantly surprised that she knew what I was going for. That in itself was very rewarding. The fans were all nice and supportive in their comments while the work looked great, all on one wall. I may have had a bit too much wine, but that only added to the fun.
Speaking of wine, did you have some Star Trek Wine with your Thanksgiving dinner?
ORTIZ: I did! I ate dinner at an old friend’s house, so I brought two bottles along. The wine really warms you up.
Let's get to this month's prints. "Errand of Mercy" is clearly a dagger stabbing at the Earth. Take us through your inspiration for this piece.
ORTIZ: It was initially a sword stabbing the planet. But as most fans know, that is the symbol for the Federation in the Mirror universe. So the challenge was to make it Klingon.
The copy for "The Changeling" and also the imagery (with NOMAD looking a lot like a robot running amok) is very retro and playful. Guide us through coming up with those ideas and then realizing them on paper.
ORTIZ: The image derived from the opening scene where Nomad fires upon the Enterprise. I wanted Nomad to take on a more human-like form. The antennas here work as arms, while his body is removed so that I can add speed-lines. It gave me a sort of "super-villain" feel to it, so I added the copy.
"The Deadly Years" has a Seventh Seal feel to it. Are we right there? If so, take us through the connection as you view it. If not, what were you aiming for?
ORTIZ: The only connection between the two would be the appearance of Death. The attempt was more of the implication of Death, looming over the Enterprise as Kirk and some of his crew rapidly aged.
At first glance, the triangle in your "Return to Tomorrow" print looks like a tractor beam, but a closer look at the piece as a whole has the feel of a dollar bill... with the pyramid and the eyeball. What were you aiming for here?
ORTIZ: Although I was aware of the Masonic assertion, it was not intentional. I again turned to Russian posters for my inspiration and I had always wanted to try placing an eye within the Enterprise hull, simply as a design element. The stripes are a recurring element within Russian posters.
By the way, whose eyeball is that?
ORTIZ: I wanted Diana Muldaur's eye, but I was unable to locate a high-res image. But I would hope that her character in the episode is evoked in the poster. It can also be interpreted as the Enterprise's eye, since ships are called "she." In which case, the beaming down concept also works.
Which of the four this month was the hardest to get right, and which came together with the least difficulty?
ORTIZ: The images came to me fairly quickly. It was just a matter of execution. In that regard, "The Changeling" proved to be the most difficult. It was only after altering Nomad's design that I was able to feel happy with it. "Errand of Mercy" may have been the easiest.
If you were going to display one of these on your wall, which would it be and why?
ORTIZ: My choice would be "The Changeling." I like the starkness and how gradient dots contrast the straight lines and angles.
The StarTrek.com Shop is offering the four prints as a set of plated-printed lithographs on 100-pound, aqueous-coated, satin-finish paper. Each print measures 18x24 inches and the set of four is $34.95. US and Canada fans can purchase the sets below.
Pyramid will have the images available in the UK on Wood for £39.99 (43x59cm) and £49.99 (45x76cm), Canvas for £59.99 (60x80cm) and as Framed Art Prints at £49.99 (60x80cm). UK fans will be able to purchase the items at Amazon.co.uk, ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk and Oneposter.co.uk.
The next four images will be revealed in early January here on StarTrek.com.