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.
This week I was flying my runabout called the U.S.S. Gamemaster over Prague in the Czech Republic on my way back from a Rujian steeplechase event on Omekla 9. I needed to stop by a secret Section 31 facility to switch out my runabout’s command pod. And who did I bump into? None other than the phenomenal Star Trek Adventures artist, Martin Sobr.
Even though he was busy doing something scurrilous, I interrupted him to talk about his role in creating the art that we know and love. I even managed to pick up a never-before-seen illustration. (Actually, I told the Section 31 base commander that I would reveal the location of their facility if I didn’t get what I wanted from Martin. Ta-da! Look what I do for you folks!)
Let’s start with the never-before-seen art…
This art piece really gets me going. It is like the shuttle pilots and engineers are rushing to launch every craft to help clear the area of random deadly asteroids capable of absorbing force field energy that can destabilize the main vessel’s warp field. The crew works desperately as a cloaked Romulan warbird is nearby hunting them down.
Okay, enough of my imagination. Let’s get to the interview.
Michael: How did you get involved with doing the artwork for the Star Trek Adventures game?
Martin: I had already painted quite a few pieces for Conan RPG when Sam Webb, Star Trek RPG art director, contacted me to see if I was interested in teaming up on Star Trek as well. Being a fan of the series, I agreed wholeheartedly.
Michael: How much creative freedom were you given when you were commissioned to work on the project? Was their an already established storyline involved?
Martin: Sam usually sends me a brief description of a scene he wants to be painted along with a few reference images on the apparel and such. It could go something like, “TNG male officer hanging out with a female Bajoran at a bar on a starship.” I then have a great deal of creative freedom in its actual portrayal as long as I get everything to look like Star Trek (races, colors of the uniforms, Enterprise bar stools, etc.). The detailed storyline is kept secret until published. But I think the paintings are seen by the writers, who can give additional feedback.
Michael: When did your passion for art first develop?
Martin: I started to paint about three-and-a-half years ago, but the real passion developed after I started to glimpse between the artistic lines, which was much later. Only then I started to truly appreciate the great works of masters like Frank Frazetta, Jeff Catherine Jones, or John Berkey.
Paintings are a bit like the green code in the Matrix films. At first, you only see just the green lines of code. But the more you grow your painting skills, the more lines turn into beautiful blonds and brunettes!
Michael: Nicely put. Do you have any upcoming art you could share with us?
Martin: I have some art left for the newest Star Trek commission I painted a few days ago. But that’s going to take some time before it’s released. I have to keep it secret until then.
Michael: Do you think it will make the cut?
Martin: Nothing has been rejected, so far.
Michael: How long have you been a fan of Star Trek? What was your first exposure to Star Trek?
Martin: Star Trek has been on TV for as long as I can remember and no episode felt like a waste of time, although I skipped the Enterprise series. I think my first exposure was to The Next Generation series mixed with some of the original Star Trek films. Both were awesome, not just as a great media to watch, but as a vision of the future we all want to have.
Michael: Isn’t that the truth. What advice do you have for any artists looking to get into publishing work with role-playing games?
Martin: Be a good visual storyteller.
The best painters don’t just come up with the most dynamic designs and engaging colors, but each painting contains a flow of events, some more subtle than others. Being a great artist is throwing the audience right into the thickness of the moment.
Michael: And I gotta’ ask, who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
Martin: That would be Kirk! I like the way he represents the humanity versus “where no man has gone before”. He isn’t too smooth about it like Picard or pacifistic like Janeway. Romancing aliens, blasting dangerous entities, and falling for tribbles. Kirk’s got it all.
I think the same can be said about you, Martin. Your illustrations take us where no fan has ever gone before. We look forward to seeing more of your dynamic work in the future!
Want to catch more of Martin’s art? Check it out at www.martinsobr.com