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A Gallery Full of Space Settlement Art

Islands of the Gods Orbital Settlement by Richard Bizley
Islands of the Gods Orbital Settlement by Richard Bizley

It’s been three months since I originally wrote about the National Space Society’s Space Settlement Art Contest. The art submission period closed a couple days ago and the process of judging the entries has already begun. Seventy submissions made it through the screening process. There was actually a rather large number of submissions that were rejected. The most common reason for rejection was that the artwork failed to meet the contest’s subject and realism requirements. Perhaps most surprising was that the submitted images were spread so equally across the four contest categories: Asteroid Settlements, Mars Settlements, Moon Settlements, and Orbital Settlements. We were sure that we would be overwhelmed with pictures featuring Moon and Mars settlements. Also suprisng was that the Asteroid and Orbital categories appear to be the overall strongest.

Of the accepted entries, about 90 percent were created using software and 10 percent created using traditional art media. For software, I was not surprised to see that Bryce was the most commonly used 3D graphics package. I was especially pleased to see so many Lightwave submissions as that is the 3D software I am currently in the process of learning. There were also a few submissions using Pandromeda’s Mojoworld software, an exceptional 3D package specialized for the creation of planets. I myself am a user of Mojoworld and Pandromeda was the first sponsor of our contest – thanks to the courtesy of Ken Musgrave.

The work of space artists has always been an important component of space exploration. The artist’s ability to envision a spacefaring future and to then protray that vision in such a way that others can see the possibilites of the future is crucial to helping people understand what a spacefaring civilization is all about. Recognizing the importance of imagery, NSS activists decided that a space settlement art contest would be a great way to achieve several objectives:

  • getting artists interested in portraying space settlements,
  • establishing an online art gallery to help people understand space settlements,
  • producing a space settlement calendar to more widely spread the idea of a spacefaring future.

In looking over the entries in the gallery, I am quite struck by the imagination exhibited by the artists relative to portraying our future in space. For example, in the Moon Settlement category, there is The Soaring Arena by Bill Wright which features Lunarians donning wings for human-powered flight around the lunar dome. In the Orbital Settlement category, we have Inside Orbital City by Murphy Elliott with a colorful biker on what is an apparently juiced-up jet-bike, not to mention Richard Bizley’s romantic Islands of the Gods shown at the top of this article. Perhaps the most emotional of the submissions is to be found in the Mars Settlements category. The piece Mars from a Young Perspective by Javier Arizabalo is simply a picture of a young boy out on the surface of Mars with a calm thoughtful look on his face as a spaceship takes flight in the background. I wonder what he’s thinking.

Once the judging is over and assembly of the calendar is complete, it is my plan to prepare a presentation summarizing the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest and reviewing the associated 2008 Space Settlement Calendar. Likely venues for this presentation are the International Space Development Conference in Dallas and the Duckon Science Fiction Convention in Chicago where, I am proud to say, I am this year’s Science Guest of Honor.

While we do not yet have space settlements, you’ve got to go and check out the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest Gallery to see what a number of artists think that future may look like.

Ad Astra, Jim

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3 Responses to “A Gallery Full of Space Settlement Art”

  1. Hi, a very nice writeup. I only wanted to note that a sad suprise for me is that blender and gimp are not that popular as I would want them to be.

  2. Plaxco says:

    Hi Janek,

    Gimp was used by several artists but Adobe Photoshop was far and away the most commonly used software, whether it was for postwork for 3D packages or for the entire artistic creation process.

    I was not really suprised at Blender’s poor showing, especially since it came so near to dying several years ago and since there are so many 3D packages to choose from. But look at it this way – there were more Blender submissions than Cinema 4D, which surprised me.

    And while some people used Mojoworld, there were no submissions using Vue.

    Ad Astra, Jim

  3. C says:

    I just want to say that I looked at the art work that was submitted in the contest that you made happen.
    There is no one word to describe what I saw. The people who were the creators of these visions are the ones who give us the sight to begin the process of turning our desires to travel into space into a movement that will one day get us there. We can only hope that their visions are a true depiction of what will be.