The Force Is Strong with Orlando Arocena
Orlando remembers his first exposure to Star Wars, in 1977. “It was one of the first movies I saw in a theater, when I was about five years old. My older brother took me to the movies, and when we got there it was Star Wars—and I was excited about that,” he recalls. “He left me there with two large popcorns and two large Cokes, and he was like, ‘Don’t move from here. I have a hot date, and then I’ll come back for you.’ So unfortunately he missed out, but I think I saw Star Wars about four times that day.”
In advance of a major Star Wars–themed art exhibit, at the Hero Festival in Marseille, France (November 7 and 8, with a second showing December 3 through 15), Orlando shared some of his popular Star Wars tribute images with us, as well as giving us a first look at some new Star Wars work.
The exhibit—which includes work by Orlando and dozens of artists from around the world—is a joint production of Le Café Pixel Gallery, the Poster Posse, Acme Archives, and Lucas Film, as well as the city of Marseille and others, as excitement about the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens builds.
Orlando says he finds Star Wars appealing in part because of the creativity that’s evident in the films. But his admiration for the series goes deeper than that. “In part, Star Wars gets me because of everything it says—not just the creativity but also the philosophy that’s part of it,” he says. “The whole yin-yang of the Dark Side and the Force…. I think that as an audience we gravitate toward that. It’s not only entertaining but also motivating.”
Not only a Star Wars fan, Orlando is also an Illustrator fan. “Seriously, Adobe Illustrator is my favorite video game of all time,” he says, adding that he generally approaches his illustrations in one of two ways: “Often, I start off directly sketching in Illustrator after I’ve pulled all my visual resources and references together—that’s one of the beautiful things about Adobe Illustrator, the ability to plot out or embed visual references off to the side. From there, I’ll just start contouring and building up shapes…and that could be anything from pulling an oval vector shape and immediately having a gradient fill that I can manipulate within a spectrum, or just starting from the dynamic of how the gradient fills up that space.”
Orlando’s other process is a more traditional or “old-school” technique of sketching on paper, scanning it in, and then replotting the sketch. “But I usually prefer to jump right into an illustration,” he says. “That way, I’m caught up in the spontaneity and excitement of watching a sketch evolve.”