May the creative force be with him

TO BOLDLY GO: Paul Shipper's art reflects the films and television series he grew up with.
TO BOLDLY GO: Paul Shipper's art reflects the films and television series he grew up with.

Inside a seemingly unremarkable garage in Hamilton, starship captains and swashbuckling adventurers take shape.

The studio of British-born artist Paul Shipper is a wonderland for film buffs and science fiction fans.

Stacks of posters - mostly created by Shipper himself - lie on the tables and adorn easels. Working scale models of the lightsabers from the Star Wars movies hang from the ceiling and eerie futuristic music pervades the room from his computer's sound system.

Shipper, who specialises in both traditional and digital art, is exhibiting his works at this weekend's Armageddon Expo at the Claudelands Arena.

Although a new experience for the 36-year-old, he will not be out of his element. Since he was a boy he has collected film posters of his favourite films and shows, like the Indiana Jones series, Battlestar Galactica and the Star Wars movies.

His idol is Drew Struzan, an American artist best known for his posters for the Star Wars prequels and Blade Runner: The Director's Cut.

"I'd describe Drew as the only living film poster artist in existence any more.

"When I was at art school and I discovered who he was, I realised this was the guy who had created all those posters that had been on my bedroom walls ... I was like 'Wow, somebody actually does this as their job!' - and right then I knew that was what I wanted to do."

Shipper's aspirations of becoming Struzan's heir apparent look set to materialise. His artwork based on the new movie Star Trek: Into Darkness was discovered online and retweeted by actor Simon Pegg, who plays Enterprise chief engineer Scotty. Suddenly Shipper's profile was elevated into the stratosphere.

"I had 25,000 hits on my blog site in one day, the day he did that. Simon's following me on Twitter now."

Shipper's clients include Penguin Books, Sports Illustrated, GQ magazine and trading card company Topps.

One of the projects he is most proud of is the artwork on the box of a Star Wars: Battle for Hoth game he created for Lucasfilm. His work has been exhibited and sold at galleries in the United States.

He moved to Waikato six years ago after he met and started a family with a Kiwi in Britain.

An intriguing recent project was illustrating a comic book for American musician Whiiite, which depicts the DJ as "a zombie with the ability to manipulate objects with sound". The online version features a soundtrack that changes with the turn of each virtual page.

Waikato Times