An image featuring three pieces of art from the Star Wars Celebration Art Show.

Celebration Chicago: Art Show Artists Interview

This interview was originally published on the now-defunct website The Wookiee Gunner. Parts of the article were updated after it was transferred over to Radical Grid.

If you’ve ever been to Star Wars Celebration, you’ll know the Art Show in the Exhibit Hall is the place to find some of the most breathtaking works of art and incredibly talented individuals. It’s where I sought out artists Dianne Vaznelis, Kaela Croft, and Michael Pasquale and asked them about their exclusive artwork for Celebration Chicago and their thoughts on the animated shows.

Rebels is my favorite Star Wars. What made you choose Ahsoka Tano as your subject for the Art Show?

DianneRebels was one of my favorite aspects of Star Wars in recent years. I was emotionally caught up on the storyline by the end, so I wanted to do something to represent her. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, so this is a good excuse to finally get around to doing that, but I think she’s a great character.

Kaela: I’m a huge fan of Ahsoka to begin with, and I also love wolves. Animals are a big deal to me, so when I had the chance to do Ahsoka and the wolves, I wanted to do it because it’s an untold story. Nobody really knows if they’re even going to be together, but it felt right. And it has a Princess Mononoke vibe that goes with it.

Art of Ahsoka and the Loth-wolves on Lothal.
Credit: Kaela Croft

What were your thoughts on Ahsoka’s journey from The Clone Wars through Star Wars Rebels?

Dianne: One of my favorite things about Star Wars is over the years we’ve gotten some of these characters where we really get to watch them grow from initial childhood or adolescence to adulthood and just see the journey they get to be on. I think that’s really interesting compared to a lot of other stories where you kind of get the end of somebody’s life or what their end point ended up being and you don’t get the journey that brought them there, so I just think it’s really great we’ve gotten to see that with her.

Art of Ahsoka Tano surrounded with younger versions of herself and Morai.
Credit: Dianne Diha Vaznelis

Michael, I know you had been contemplating on other subjects before this one, but what made you ultimately choose Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?

I didn’t want to do something that I knew another artist would do, so I figured if I had one shot to do this show, it would have to be a huge movie-style piece, and if I had to pick one movie, it would be Rogue One. Also, the collage style became my trademark, so I figured I might as well draw every single character, even the Ghost and Hammerheads, and make it a big print to make it stand out because there’s a lot of talented people [at the Art Show].

A fan-made poster of Rogue One featuring all of the characters and ships.
Credit: Michael Pasquale

There’s so much packed into the Rogue One print, how do you go about constructing something like that?

Michael: When I finished it, I don’t even know how I started it. Off and on, it took 2 or 3 months to get done. What I do, I’ll try and sketch a rough layout, even if I have to use key art and cut and paste photographs just to get a basic idea. Once I have everything laid out, I do one character at a time. I try and put as much detail and stay as accurate as I can. I grab screenshots of every little angle and checking cosplayers to see how they did it, so I get as much information as I can for that one character.

Were there other pieces of art or concepts you had worked on for the Art Show that didn’t make the cut? Kaela, I know you had worked on a piece about Ezra. It’s not often that I see him featured in works of art like that.

Kaela: Ezra doesn’t get a lot of love, so that was actually a secondary backup concept that I submitted for Celebration and Ahsoka won out, but I wanted to focus on Ezra because he also had a connection with the wolves and Kanan and Ahsoka. It’s unfinished, but I do want to finish it just to have something out there. I’m always wondering is Ezra floating around in space? What’s going on with that guy?

Poster art of Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, and Ahsoka Tano.
Credit: Kaela Croft

Dianne: I was thinking about doing something with Kylo Ren and Rey because I like their dynamic in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I also looked at Solo: A Star Wars Story, but I just kept coming back to Ahsoka because I love her and I love drawing her, so it was easy to focus on that primarily.

Lastly, the animated shows are such an integral part of the overall story. Why do you think other fans out there should start watching the animated content?

Dianne: The cartoons are definitely not just for kids. I don’t want to say it’s dark, but it has a lot of adult content where it gets you thinking. It’s enjoyable for adults. The story is really deep and there’s a lot of talk about how the Force works, so if they haven’t seen Rebels or even The Clone Wars, I do highly recommend them. It’s not just for kids.

Kaela: I think [the shows] expand the Star Wars world. If you like the movies, there’s so much more backstory out there. I was a huge Expanded Universe/Legends fan back in the day. I grew up on that, so having access to all those other stories and all those other characters just really expands the world for you. I think they’ve done a really good job of having those fun elements for children, but also playing to some of those more adult concepts.

Michael: I love Rebels. I miss that show so much. I love that whole time when Rogue One came out and they tied in the animated stuff. When you see the animated stuff go into the main films and then those characters came back into Rebels and you see Saw, Two Tubes, and the U-wing, I just felt that was really well thought out. I love when all the sagas, even books or games, all tie together, so I knew I had to add [the Ghost and the Hammerheads].

The animated shows are worth watching. You’re going to miss a lot of key points, I think, and a lot of backstory, especially when it came to Rebels, where there was a lot of Force development. There were a lot of things that I would have never thought of and they just went to the next level, especially in season four. I never thought I would see the stuff that Ezra was doing, like the World Between Worlds. There’s so much great content in the animated series that I think it’s definitely worth watching, if you have the time. If you’re just a movie fan, I think you can still appreciate them, but I also think there’s a little bit more seasoning that you’re going to miss. There’s a lot more depth when you circle back to the movies because the shows change your perspective and opinion about them.

Make sure to follow Dianne Vaznelis (@diha_artwork), Kaela Croft (@kaelacroftart), and Michael Pasquale (@michaelpasqualeart) on social media to keep up with their latest and upcoming projects.

The next Star Wars Celebration will descend upon Anaheim, California, from August 27-30. Will we see you there?

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