We all wish that we could be official paid writers and artists for our favorite science-fiction series like Star Trek. But there are only so many slots available in the world of entertainment. Some such super-fans like artist Dan Voltz don’t give up the dream just because he isn’t on CBS or Modiphius’ payroll though. Die-hard Trekkies and players of Star Trek Adventures RPG keep rolling and producing great content.
Continuing Mission wants to pay homage to all you true-blue uber-fans. Hence, when I come across some great fanfiction, be it drawn or written, expect me to post it here for the universe to enjoy.
I caught up with Dan on Facebook and had to ask him about his amazing art.
Michael: Dan, why do you make this type of art? Why are you drawn to Star Trek as a subject?
Dan: My first interaction with art started when I was about five years old. From then, through the end of high school, art was a very important outlet for me. And then I just kind of… stopped. For ten years or so! When I picked up the pencil again, I made a very concerted effort to work on my craft.
But I also wanted art to be fun. I needed it to be that outlet again. So I started to focus on what was important to me. And that’s why I’ve been drawn to science fiction and fantasy generally (and Star Trek specifically) as a subject matter.
I’m a lifelong Star Trek fan. I love the themes of inclusion and exploration—and everyone working for the betterment of humanity. I try to incorporate those themes in my artwork (however subtle), especially when creating Star Trek fan art.
What does your artwork represent? Does your art represent something about you?
I’ve always loved spaceships. The chance to escape and explore–I think that’s always appealed to me in one form or another. Whether that represents something about me, in particular, I don’t really know…
I try not to tell anyone what my art represents. Mostly because everyone’s entitled to their own interpretation of my work. But those themes of shared humanity, exploration–that’s something I definitely try to work into my art. As is the mystery of space, the potential of the unexplored. All of that is usually on my mind, in some way, when I’m creating art.
Okay. So what inspires you then? What connection do you have to your art?
So, this is going to sound a little obvious, but Star Trek really inspires me. When I create an illustration of a starship, I’m not thinking about the empty hull. I’m thinking about all the people living onboard that ship, the stories they’re living.
And even when I’m drawing people and not spaceships, it’s all about the story. I try to make sure that even with a portrait, there’s some kind of storytelling happening.
How do you create your art pieces? Why do you use certain materials?
How I make my art really depends on what kind of art I’m creating. With a starship piece, I’ll usually start by taking some photo reference. Star Trek starships, for example, are so complicated. And fans (including myself) are very good at catching errors of any kind.
Once I’m happy with the reference, I’ll lay some pencils down in Clip Studio Pro, a digital illustration software. Once I’m happy with that step, I’ll move on to painting. Usually, I’m using a wide variety of digital brushes to get just the right look.
When I’m creating non-starship art (or people art, as I like to call it), I’ll usually (but not always) start with a pencil on paper. When I’m happy with pencils, I’ll then scan the paper and bring it into Clip Studio to create the lines and colors until I get a finished piece. The whole process (no matter the subject matter) can be a little more complicated (and frustrating) than that, but those are the basic strokes.
What does your art mean to you?
I know it’s going to sound a little cheesy, but my art means the world to me. Art is how I connect with the world (be it a real or fictional world). And so every piece of art I create is a little bit special to me.
I also always try to create artwork that actually means something to me. It doesn’t always turn out that way. But I try.
Is there an artwork here you are most proud of? Why?
Usually, my most recent piece of art is the one I’m most proud of.
But if I had to answer more specifically, I’d probably point to my most recent piece featuring the Enterprise NCC-1701-D, which I call “around the rings.” It was just one of those pieces that, more or less, turned out the way I pictured it in my head. And it’s always gratifying when that happens.
That is definitely a gorgeous piece. How often do you play Star Trek Adventures RPG and in what format? Online or tabletop?
I typically get to play Star Trek Adventures once a month or so. I GM a small group of friends—so we’re playing in person, on a tabletop. It’s been a lot of fun. We started, well, shortly after the game first came out. So it’s been almost two years now (where does the time go?!).
Of all the Star Trek games out there (and I’ve played a few), bar none, STA is the game that comes the closest to feeling like an actual Star Trek episode.
Who is your favorite Star Trek character? Why?
This is such a difficult question to answer! And, really, it depends on the day. Some days it’s Janeway. Some days it’s Picard or Sisko. Sometimes it’s Tilly. Captain Pike has been up there lately, too. I mean… at a certain point, depending on my mood, I’ll probably mention just about every Star Trek character ever.
Although… now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I can give you a slightly simpler answer. My favorite character is the Enterprise.
Good answer! Lastly, if you were any component of a starship, what component would you be?
Uh… that is a good question. I guess the component I would pick would be the sensor array… mostly because I tend to be a people watcher. I try to observe my surroundings. I don’t always pick up on everything (but, hey, neither do the Enterprise’s sensors!) but I do try.
Oops! Actually, this is my last question: If people want to see more of your remarkable work, where can they find you?
If people like my artwork, they visit my website: https://danvoltzart.com
Or they can follow me on social media:
Dan, you inspire paid and unpaid professionals alike. Keep up the good work and thanks for taking the time to share your talent with our audience!