Nicholas Hyde's growing collection of work can be seen at his Etsy site. His designs reflect a range of minimalist, "retro" sensibilities, often utilizing bold shapes and colors. Although he's done multiple series of Star Wars-inspired artwork, I'm most intrigued by his Color Way set of three prints. The series includes prints designed around the color palettes of Yoda, Boba Fett, and a Royal Guard. When so many other Star Wars poster designs feature photorealism, or at least more direct references to iconic characters or moments, Nicholas's series offers a very different idea of representation. I've talked here about minimalism in Star Wars art design, and it seems to me that this is nearly as minimal as you can get. Not only has Nicholas reduced each character to a set of basic geometric shapes, leaving only the basic color palette as a guide, but he has also removed almost all the text--no credits, taglines, or catchphrases.
I don't know if these designs will resonate with everyone, but I enjoy the fact that someone could hang these posters as a color accent for a room and people wouldn't even necessarily notice them as Star Wars posters; they'd just be nice artwork on the wall. I also like them as a concrete symbol of the extent to which Star Wars is a part of our collective cultural consciousness--that a poster design could be so minimized visually and yet still be appreciated and understood. The subtlety is daring, and for me it works. The popularity of Star Wars, and the amount of information available to anyone with an Internet connection, has de-valued the currency of trivial knowledge. To share the enjoyment of posters like this is a little bit like the sharing of behind-the-scenes insider knowledge that used to be so invigorating among fans.
Talk about your development as an artist—where did the interest start, where did you go to school, which artists, styles, periods, etc., have been most inspiring for you?
I really liked the skateboard art of the 90s. The play on iconic forms that showed through a lot of the graphics that were being done around then really captured my attention.
Is there an artist whose work you wish your own work could be more like?
I love Evan Hecox and the stuff he does.
Is there another time period where you think you'd fit in well, or are you comfortable where you are?
I am pretty comfortable where I am at. I have never thought about living in a different time. Maybe a different place, but not a different time.
What's the most thrilling part of your work as an artist? What's the biggest frustration?
Hearing that people like the art is the most thrilling for me. I get frustrated when people try and break it down like it's some crazy gnarly art project. It is just simple fun Star Wars art and people should look at it as such.
Do you work primarily in digital, or do you also spend time with ink, paints, pencils, etc.? What's your favorite medium to work with?
I do paint and doodle, but most of the work that I have out is digital. It is all fun to work with.
When you create movie posters, do you see that as part of your “official” work, or is it something that you do just for relaxation? Is your thought process and method the same as with any other work?
I am really just having fun with the movie posters. And I hope people see them as funny.
Was your SW illustration a commission, a challenge from a friend, purely your own motivation...?
It all is purely me wanting to create something.
What were some of your stylistic inspirations for the SW arts you created?
I think hip-hop was a big inspiration for most of the art. I also made some with some inspiration from old World Expo posters.
I find your Color Way SW posters really eye-catching and intriguing. I like how you emphasize the fundamental color palette of each character, and I love the use of white space for a subtle, refined, elegant look. When people look at your SW artwork, what are some things that you hope they'll notice and appreciate?
I think that you can fully realize most of the characters in SW just by their colors. And I also like geometric shapes and saw some old World Expo posters with just shapes and both ideas kind of clicked. I think they are pretty minimal and I like that about them.
What is one part of the SW movies that you wish you could re-design?
The part in Return of the Jedi where Jabba has everyone walking the plank into the Sarlacc pit. I would redo that part in more pirate motif.
My favorite is the Empire Strikes Back poster of Han and Leia [painted by Roger Kastel]. It reminds me of some old Conan art.
With everything available everywhere instantly on the Internet, and trends coming and going so quickly, how can any of us believe that our arts preferences and tastes are original? Do you struggle with “being original,” or is that something you don't even think about when you're working?
I don’t even think about it. I just make something I like. Most of my stuff is obviously inspired by SW and hip-hop, which were inspired by this or that, which was inspired by . . . It can go on and on.
Talk about some ways that art builds community. Does your work reflect who your circle of friends is at the moment? Has the exposure your posters have received via the Internet made you feel part of a wider community of like-minded people, or has it really made little difference to you personally?
My artwork isn’t big by any means, but I would like to think that it brings some people together on a positive level. I think being creative with anything you do will always bring people of similar tastes together.
As you've looked at others' movie-inspired artwork on-line, have you seen any skill-related errors or sloppiness that you wish you could help people avoid?
I wouldn’t say I am skilled at a comfortable level, so I wouldn’t know how to help anybody with their artwork. I see stuff I like and I see stuff I don’t like. I like seeing series of works, not just one-offs.
What advice would you give a young artist?