The Making of “Sgt. Lucas”

Star Wars artist Randy Martinez created a mashup homage to Star Wars and one of the most iconic bands in music history — The Beatles. He used similar collage methods to those used in the creation of the original Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” album cover that inspired the image. He recently unveiled his “Sgt. Lucas” poster at Celebration IV, to get fans excited about the next big fan party happening in London this July. Martinez’s art will be used as the Celebration Europe program cover artwork and will be sold as a poster in the Celebration Store.

To find out how he made the “Sgt. Lucas” collage poster using everything from over 300 fake flowers to image cutouts, read on.

Why did you decide to recreate the Beatles album cover with Star Wars characters for the Celebration Europe program

I am a certified Beatles fan and have always wanted to do something that crossed the Beatles and my other love Star Wars. If you look at the art I have created over the years, you will notice I have created many crossover pieces of art including; Star Wars Pulp Fiction, Star Wars Wizard of Oz, Star Wars Van Gogh, Star Wars Theater, and most recently my Star Wars Celebration IV exclusive poster “Sith Rocks” featuring Darth Maul on a double-ended guitar and Emperor Palpatine playing cowbell ( “I Gotta have more Cowbell!”) I actually had the Beatles/Star Wars crossover in mind for a long time, in fact if you look really close at one of my Star Wars Insider magazine back pages (Darth Vader: Max Rebo Fan Club President), you can see he is holding an Abbey Road CD with the Max Rebo Band walking the famed crosswalk instead of the Fab Four.

But with Star Wars turning 30 and Sgt. Peppers turning 40, I just had to do something that wasn’t just a background detail. The Sgt. Peppers piece, that I have aptly title “Sgt. Lucas” was actually going to be my Limited Edition print for Celebration Europe. I submitted it for approval and the guys running Celebration Europe flipped over it and begged, “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CAN WE USE THIS FOR THE PROGRAM COVER AND POSTER?!” So we did a few changes of characters and additions to the flower garden and we were on our way. I was so excited when they selected my art for the cover, but I almost went into overload because at the time I was neck deep into painting the program cover/poster for Star Wars Celebration IV, and hadn’t even started “Sith Rocks” yet. But you know, when you get an opportunity like this…you make time and energy.

What was the first thing you did to prepare making the collage?

Honestly, the first thing I had to do was figure out how I was going to accomplish the task. You know that saying when you order more food than you can eat — “My eyes were bigger than my stomach?” Well, that’s how I felt once I realized, “Wait I have to actually make this thing?” As I mentioned before I was already working on two pieces of art, on deadline mind you, so the first thing I had to do was organize my time and get my ducks in row for Sgt. Lucas. It was overwhelming to say the least. I actually set out to paint the piece, and actually started to. But it didn’t take long for me to realize I had to build it to make it look perfect. Then a little panic set in because the last thing I built was a birdhouse in high school and it got condemned! The first thing I did at that point was call on good ol’ Mom. She is a master craftswoman who built like half of her house herself. She helped me draw out blue prints and figure out how to make the art easy to build, yet solid.

Why did you create the image using material’s like fake flowers and plants to help you design the poster collage?

It’s funny, I was going to make tissue flowers, and my mom’s high school students actually helped me make a bunch. They looked awesome but I really wanted to make this thing look slick and as real as possible. So I started looking everywhere I could think of to find fake flowers and plants. The trouble wasn’t finding fake flowers, the problem was finding the right size. They were either too big, or too small, or just to expensive because I neededhundreds of flowers. I had just about given up hope and was going to just do it with tissue flowers (and be forever unhappy with the art) when I walked into this old five and dime shop in Ventura and saw, crushed under some old party hats, a bag of little plastic flowers that had probably been there since the ’70s. I moved the party hats and before me was the motherload of little fake plastic flowers! They were the perfect size, perfect shape, almost perfect color, and they had hundreds and hundreds of them for pennies! I cleaned them out. The other fake plants were pretty easy to find, but the flowers were really the selling point of this piece. Pushing to find the perfect flowers and finding them really set the pace and tone for creating this piece. I mean, this was the cover art for Celebration Europe, and it’s going to be in BeatlesLand. Star Wars fans and Beatles fans expect great care in the smallest of details for the things they love. Being a fan myself, I had to try to get every detail right.

What materials did you use and how did you use them in case fans want to make their own art creation?

Sgt. Lucas is actually made up of three components:
1. The base
2. The flower garden
3. The collage of characters.

For the base, I have to give 100% credit to my mom. She really went to town building me a solid base made of wood that would be the anchor of this piece. My mom loves to make art, she loves Star Wars, and she loves the Beatles… and oh yeah, she loves me, so she was happy to help me out.

Once the base was built, we glued green Styrofoam on top of it. The Styrofoam was key because I needed something I could push flowers and stuff into that would not only have a strong hold, but was also light in weight. This thing could have potentially weighed a ton. The Styrofoam was also great to use because I could easily cut and sculpt into it.

Next I projected and traced the Star Wars Celebration Europe logo on to the green foam. This was really important because I had to know where to stick the flowers. Then came the arduous task of gluing flowers into the foam one by one. If that sounds monotonous… it is. But at the same time it was really exciting to see the logo spring out of the lifeless green foam. To fill in the gaps between letters I tied individual blades of black fake grass to these little toothpick things, and then stuck them where I felt it needed it. I eventually painted the foam a black/green color, but I wanted it to look organic so the blades of grass really helped.

Once I got the flowers in place, I started to add Star Wars toys to garden, where there are little knickknacks in the Beatles original album cover. For instance, in the cover, right in front of the garden there is a four-armed Shiva surrounded by flowers. I replaced the Shiva with a Queen Amidala figure. Adding the toys was probably the most amazing part of this piece. I dug up old toys I had in boxes for years and they all fit perfect! There is PEZ in there, some old Burger King promo toys, miniatures, action figures — you name it. I guess this is what I was saving all those toys for.

Once I got the garden completed it was now time to move on to the collage of characters. I had already put together a rough sketch using pictures from the Internet, but it occurred to me that once I blow these pictures up in size they will look terrible. So I got on the phone and talked to my good friends at Lucasfilm and told them my dilemma. The image archives guys were awesome and found me sharp pictures of every character I needed. Once I had the images printed out (each about 14 inches tall), I glued them to black foam core, and then started the task of cutting 60+ characters out of foam. Let me tell you, this was so hard. I not only had to be accurate, but I also had to push hard enough to cut all the way through the foam. I used an X-acto knife, and by the tenth character my index finger was ready to fall off. But an artist suffers for their art right?

I then glued popsicle sticks to the back of each character, and much like the flowers I one by one glued and pushed each figure in to the foam covered base. The hard part was lining things up. My girlfriend Denise helped me so much during this stage. You really need two sets of eyes to get things right. The last step was to put the blue background on. I simply spray painted a piece of white foam core and screwed it into the base using “L” brackets.

Did you feel like you were making a mini Rose Parade float at times?

Actually yeah, I still might attach wheels to the bottom and see if I can get it in the Rose Parade next year! It really did give me a new perspective on the people who make those floats. I’m only making a little sculpture, they have a whole house sized thing to make. They are awesome.

What were some of the challenges and obstacles you faced while making the collage?

This piece was really a study in problem solving. More than creating anything the most difficult part was figuring out how to solve problems from weight, to look, to how things will stick in it. Honestly, I have not really been able to step back and enjoy it as art yet, because I’m just proud that I accomplished the task. To quote the Beatles, “With a little help from my friends.” If I had to pick one toughest challenge I ‘d say it was time management, and just getting it done in time. There was a few moments were I was scared I wouldn’t get it done in time. Fitting it in to my everyday life, when I usually draw and paint, was really difficult. It’s a whole different way of thinking, so it took some getting used to. But I like it, and I think I will start to incorporate more three-dimensional elements into my work.

How long did it take you to create the collage in total?

The piece took over two months of work, and I literally finished it the night before it was unveiled on the Sunday of Celebration IV.

Are there any “hidden messages” in the collage (like the original Beatles album cover) for hardcore fans to look for?

Oh boy, there is a lot of hidden stuff in there. Nothing that I would get in trouble for, but I think it would take a lot of looks before you saw everything. It was really important to me that everything from the plants, to the character placement, to the toys in the garden, were a virtual replica of the Beatles album cover…only Star Wars. So if you know your Beatles, you will know where to look for hidden things. I’ll let you guys find them yourself. What would be the fun in revealing everything?

Why do you think fans will get a kick out of it?

Creating this piece has been a real journey. To be totally honest, I wanted to do this because I would get a kick out of it. But the reaction to the piece, and the conversation it provokes about the Beatles and Star Wars, really got me to notice why people get a kick out of it. The Beatles and Star Wars are without a doubt the two most influential pop cultural creations in the last century. The amazing thing about them is they both have exceeded pop culture and have become part of our modern culture. Everywhere the Beatles and Star Wars reaches, people fall in love with them, and they infect people. Star Wars Celebration IV and Celebration Europe proves that Star Wars is something that can make people of different races, religions, cultures and generations “Come Together” and enjoy the films and one another, the same way the Beatles have for over 40 years. So I think the Sgt. Lucas piece is really special because it celebrates two things that mean so much to people and their lives. It’s really an honor to have the opportunity to do a piece that means so much to people.

Additional comments?

Let me end buy saying I am so happy and feel blessed to be a part of Star Wars. I am so happy the fans like the art, because this one more than any other piece was made for them. Celebration Europe will be incredible and I can’t wait to see everyone. Star Wars is forever and remember…”All you need is love.”

To see a photo blog of how the poster was painstakingly put together, visit Randy Martinez’s site here:
The Making of “Sgt. Lucas”: The Official Program cover and Poster for Star Wars Celebration Europe


6 Responses to The Making of “Sgt. Lucas”

  1. bonniegrrl says:

    Welcome readers of Craft magazine!
    Thanks for linking to the article:

  2. […] The Making of “Sgt. Lucas” [image] Star Wars artist Randy Martinez created a mashup homage to Star Wars and one of the most iconic bands in music […] […]

  3. tcamskywalker says:

    I love your “Sgt. Lucas”, Randy! My mom is a real Beatles-fan and she loved it even more – I will get her the poster on Celebration Europe!

  4. nyjlm says:

    my 8yo son is a huge Beatles and Star Wars fan and just loves this! Great work.

  5. I am really impressed by the art work I am.

    But more importantly the poster is sold at CE. (right)

    this is in dutch since I think I know TcamSkywalker
    “hallo tcamskywalker of zal ik zeggen thessa mail me maar op mijn website (willekeurige naam) at darklighter . nl “

  6. Darth McAdam says:

    This is such a unique piece that I’m really hoping it will be available at CE.

    Weren’t some of you winners of the Empire quiz? I recognise TcamSkywalker and maybe biggs-darklighter

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