This is part of a continuing series where we get to know the masterminds behind the RPG that goes where no RPG has ever gone before – Star Trek Adventures.
If you are like me, you have caught yourself staring at the art in the Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook for long periods of time trying to figure out what the plot line of each art piece is. What dangers are the characters facing? How did they get in that situation? How will they survive?
Great art creates a story. It invokes thinking.
And STA’s selection of Illustrator and Concept Artist Cristi Balanescu to create much of the poignant artwork that decorates the Core Rulebook made for a perfect fit.
I happened to be orbiting over Northern Europe in my Danube-class runabout, the U.S.S. Gamemaster, when I had the hankering for a cinnamon coffee from my favorite cafe, Chummy Coffee Leiden, located in the Netherlands. After beaming down, I figured I would look up Cristi and ask him a few questions about his work with Star Trek Adventures.
Michael: How did you get involved with doing the artwork for the Star Trek Adventures game?
Cristi: Modiphius were preparing their Kickstarter campaign for a new Star Trek RPG at the time. They contacted me to do a couple of illustrations for it. After jumping for joy for about half an hour, I (very professionally) accepted, and that was it.
Michael: How much creative freedom were you given when you were commissioned to work on the project? Was their an already established storyline involved?
Cristi: On big licenses, there are always strict rules to follow. This being Star Trek, accuracy and staying true to the source material was very important. Chris [Birch] and the team had a very a clear idea of what they wanted from the start. But they were very open to communication and suggestions as the work progressed. Nevertheless, my job as an illustrator is to take all the rules and requirements and shape them into what the client needs. I think that’s where creativity comes into play. This project was no different.
Michael: What was your favorite part of doing the concept art for Star Trek Adventures?
Cristi: Getting to contribute, even in a small part, to something as influential as Star Trek was a reward on its own. Apart from that, it’s always awesome to work with people as passionate about something, as the guys from Modiphius are about Star Trek.
Michael: I had the chance to peruse your online gallery. Quite a body of work outside of Star Trek Adventures. When did your passion for art first develop?
(Some of Cristi’s other dynamic work)
Cristi: I guess the simple answer would be that I always created art in some way or another, for as long as I can remember. But I only started taking it seriously halfway through college, when I realized that computer science wasn’t necessarily my thing. Since then, it’s been an ongoing battle to make better art, and I loved all of it – for the most part 🙂
Michael: How long have you been a fan of Star Trek? What was your first exposure to Star Trek?
Cristi: I was in my teens when I first got exposed to Star Trek thanks to a science TV program back home in Romania. At some point, they started showing The Next Generation. I remember getting hooked on it instantly, trying to do everything in my power to be around a television set every Sunday evening when a new episode ran.
Michael: Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
Cristi: That would have to be Data. I think as a kid I just loved the fact that he was a funny pasty “robot”. But now it’s probably because he was the character through which they explored what it means to be human.
Michael: Deep. What advice do you have for any artists looking to get into publishing work with role-playing games?
Work hard. Do things that you’re really passionate about. Show your art to other people. If you do this consistently, people are gonna start noticing you and work will follow. And if you’re after something specific, tailor your portfolio to the client and go after them with all your best art.
That is some awesome advice, Cristi! Thanks for much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat. I hope we get to see more of your work on future STA modules!
If you are interested in seeing even more of Cristi’s beautiful work (Trek and non-Trek alike) check out his links below: