Forceful figures: Nathan Stomberg creates art piece for Lucasfilm

Posted: May 20, 2024

Art teacher brings the Force with him on the Fourth

In a galaxy known for rich world-building and boundless imagination, Lucasfilm has captivated audiences with its timeless creation: Star Wars. In this mythical franchise’s core lies a unique form of artistic expression that transcends space and time. It’s a testament to the enduring power and alluring nature of storytelling. 

Nathan Stromberg, art teacher at Minnehaha Academy, recently created a five-by-seven-foot collage of C-3PO and R2-D2 from the original 1977 Star Wars film. Its vibrant colors and layers of brilliant craftsmanship offer an amazing visual and spark a happy feeling that offers nostalgia to many who have grown up around Star Wars. 

Stromberg’s art now hangs at the Lucasfilm offices, the epicenter of George Lucas’s creative projects in San Francisco, after being unveiled in a ceremony associated with the 2024 May the Fourth Star Wars Day festivities.

At the beginning of 2024, Stromberg began this captivating work of art.

“You don’t just call a place like Lucasfilm and say ‘I can make art,’” said Stromberg. 

He came in contact with Lucasfilm through a connection involved in their creative team who was searching for a collage artist who could make a piece that belongs on display inside the newly renovated offices at Lucasfilm.

“I went to Half Price Books and I bought $50 worth of old Star Wars books to cut up and destroy,” said Stromberg. “That’s kind of the irony of collage work. You have to destroy something to make something else.”

With a collection of torn-up pictures and comics, Stromberg assembled a depiction of the beloved characters C-3PO and R2-D2 through intricate layers and careful color matching. 

“They’re life-size as well,” said Stromberg. “They were able to tell me R2-D2 is three feet 11 inches tall.”

The detailed piece’s foundation lies on large sheets of paper. The mockup design for the piece was done digitally, then printed and enlarged. It was then transported from mockup to paper with a trace onto carbon paper. The pictures are attached with an initial layer of glue and then sealed with an additional glue layer. 

The project’s duration totaled 211 hours over three months. That seems like a long time, but it’s relatively brief compared to the duration of some of Stromberg’s previous large pieces. When creating the piece he had to work on it in two separate parts because of its magnitude. It proved to be quite difficult because he then had to match up and attach the two halves when completed.

The piece had to be shipped to the offices in California so Stromberg had to create a method of transport that would not cause the paper to be rolled or otherwise damaged.

“I had to build a crate with plywood, and I’ve never had to do anything like that before,” said Stromberg. “It’s the biggest piece I’ve ever made.”

The process was long and intricate but was a great joy for Stromberg to construct. 

“I felt like a little kid doing it,” said Stromberg. “It made work feel a little less like work and more like fun.”

Star Wars is a great illustration of what art truly is and by Stromberg completing this high-profile piece, he has only added to the artistic nature of the franchise. 

“The cliché is that opportunities are 10 years in the making, but it really is true,” said Stromberg. “You just kind of keep making art as much as you can and it takes somebody reaching out and doing a real kindness to give the opportunity, and then you just can’t even believe it.”

Extra: Junior Lucas Freeman interviews Stromberg about his project.


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