The occasion of my son’s 14th birthday this past weekend has caused me to be a little reflective today. It was his nursery for which my Quelstar Space Toy Box Art Series was created.
My wife and I were living in Atlanta. I was working for Primal Screen, a broadcast design company. The owner had an impressive collection of original tin toy robots, so I was saturated in the look and feel of those nostalgic toys. When it came time to decorate our son’s nursery, we went with a space toy theme, but there was so little art that went with the many tin toy robot repros that were becoming available.
I did not want to reference the actual boxes of actual toys, because I did not want to have to obtain rights if I ever decided to make the images available to the public. But, I did want the feel of the time period from which the vintage toys would have come.
In design, there is usually a conceit within which you work. It’s a blueprint, of sorts, that you construct to make it easier for you to make decisions down the line that are consistent with the style and execution of an idea. Part of my conceit was that I would make these images with a limited color palette, because I felt that in the era they would have come from, cost would have dictated that the packaging for these toys be done in two colors. Other elements were that I needed to imagine a toy company, and that the company would brand their boxes, so there had to be logos and slogans. These pieces would have to have a voice, as it were, that conveyed the wonder, optimism and even paranoia that the exploration of space inspired in people. And I also wanted that voice to capture the amusement with which we look back on what we think of as a simpler time.
This series started a trend for me. It was that when I create something for someone I love, that piece or pieces go(es) on to become among my more successful commercial pieces. This series is now carried by the catalog Land of Nod, and no doubt has found it’s way into nurseries of other families. My collage bird series, which I originally made for my daughters, ended up on bedding and pajamas and nightgowns.
So, 14 years have come and gone, and though I am proud of the little series that started me down this path to selling my art for a living, I am most proud of the kid that I created that series for.