Space artists seek to continue illustrating worlds beyond earth

Here is an interesting article on the history and current state of space inspired art and the role it can play in advancing science and exploration: Space Art Propelled Scientific Exploration of the Cosmos—But Its Star is Fading Fast | Atlas Obscura.

image1
“The methane river delta on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, as depicted by space artist Ron Miller. (Photo: Ron Miller)”

Since 51 Pegasi b first swam into view 20 years ago, over 3,000 other exoplanets have been discovered. They vary in size, density and absurdity with some planets believed to have atmospheres of vaporized rock and mantles of liquid diamond. As such you’d think these would be boom times for space artists like Lynette Cook but in fact it’s been quite the opposite. Her space art career has never been more tenuous.

“The budgets to hire people like me on the part of publishers and science organizations has really dwindled in recent years,” she says. Partly this is due to recent changes in print economics. Cook has watched as publishers have become increasingly willing to use inaccurate and poorly rendered “no-fee” illustrations to keep costs down. “I saw a shift,” says Cook, “from commissioning new art, to wanting me to rework earlier images, so they looked different (but didn’t cost as much), to reusing older art “as is” for new discoveries.” Eventually her clients simply stopped calling, “as if they were stars in the heavens that were winking out.”

See the HobbySpace Art Section for more resources on the topic.