Star Wars Illustrator Talks Art

Trapped: Rebel Force Book 5 released January 1!

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

As a child, artist Randy Martinez spent hours sketching pictures of Darth Vader, R2D2, and other characters from the Star Wars saga. Now he is the illustrator for Lucasfilm and the books in the Star Wars Rebel Force series. He also illustrates Star Wars trading cards for Topps.

"Besides my parents being artists, Star Wars might have been my biggest inspiration for art," Martinez said in an interview with this reporter recently.

The fifth book in the popular Star Wars series, Trapped, written by Alex Wheeler, was released January 1 and is now in books stores. Published by Scholastic Inc., the 176-page book is geared toward readers ages 9 to 12 years old.

Martinez, who lives in southern California, comes from an artistic family. His mother was an art teacher and his father was an illustrator and cartoonist who worked for Disney.

"I can't remember not painting and drawing," Martinez said. "My mom has pictures of me when I was a tiny kid with paint brushes."

Although he was a gifted artist from a young age, Martinez attended art school. He does not believe he was born with talent. Instead, he stresses the importance of practice and hard work.

"Born with talent? I don't think so," he said when asked the question. "I was born with a passion, and that's what helped me along the way."

Illustrating a story and writing a story are very different processes, Martinez said.

"My mind works very visually, so it helps me a lot when I'm reading a story, to see things visually," he said. "Sometimes a piece of artwork doesn't say the whole story. Sometimes you need those little words to say everything that's going on."

Illustrated and graphic novels are important for kids who might not like to read, says Martinez.

"When I was growing up there was much less priority put on finding out how different children learned," he said. "[Educators] tried to make us all learn the same way."

Today's schools work to teach kids the way they learn best. Some kids think visually, and some analytically, while others think mathematically.

"Illustrations and books are very important in making sure that kids aren't left behind or feel like they are intimidated into not reading," Martinez said. "I like to see the understanding that people have for kids nowadays. They learn differently and those kids are getting a better opportunity to be able to find a way to learn."

Producing art works the same way, according to Martinez. While some kids may feel that they are not good artists, they like to do it anyway. The Star Wars artist has advice for beginners who are tormented by their inner critic.

"If you love to draw and you really like it, then that's all that matters," he said. "The truth about art is there is no wrong. No one should ever feel like they are doing it wrong or that they're not very good."

For more information on the Star Wars series, check out The Stacks on the Scholastic website.

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