Harnessing the 'Force'

  • UMES art prof part of exclusive exhibit

    Friday, February 24, 2017
    Brad Hudson's latest Star Wars art project

    When last heard from in a quiet corner of the UMES campus, Star Warrior Brad Hudson was sketching palm-sized drawings of the sci-fi film's characters that were to be marketed as collectible souvenirs. 

    Since then, the unassuming art professor has gone “BIG” as a recognized Star Wars artist in more ways than one. 

    His latest effort is a four-by-five foot original oil painting of a TIE fighter pilot that debuts April 13 in Orlando, Fla., the 2017 location for the widely popular Star Wars Celebration Art Show. 

    Hundreds of artists vie annually to showcase their talent at an event known to attract 50,000 or more visitors, many devoted Star Wars fanatics. Curators of the 2017 show selected just 30 artists to exhibit one work apiece. 

    Hudson is indeed traveling in a rarefied galaxy of talent. 

    Prior to the December 2015 release of “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” the Topps trading card company enlisted Hudson to produce 200 unique drawings inserted miscellaneously in Star Wars card sets sold to hobbyists and collectors. Overall, he says, he has produced almost 1,000 original drawings in the collectible card format.

    That initial gig made him an officially licensed Star Wars artist - thus eligible to submit an application to the 2017 Orlando art show jurors. 

    To be considered, Hudson said, “you have to work under the Stars Wars license, (which is) what I do through Topps.” 

    Last fall, Hudson sent art show organizers some work samples and eventually qualified for an invitation to submit what he calls “fresh artwork.” 

    Hudson's interest in the Star Wars' film genre and its various iterations dates to his childhood, so over the years he's developed a keen eye for and a unique style of interpreting characters he meets on screen. 

    He briefly contemplated a tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia and died Dec. 27, 2016, but then decided to go in a different direction. His inspiration is the ubiquitous Starfighter Corps' TIE pilot, a character who resembles one of Hudson's favorites, Darth Vader. 

    “I wanted to do something kind of flashy,” he said. “A character that maybe nobody else would use.” 

    An invitation to be a featured artist at what is an officially sanctioned Star Wars convention “is a pretty big deal,” Hudson said. 

    “I'm very excited about it. But there's also some trepidation. As an artist, you never really know when you are creating something how people are going to react,” he said. “You put yourself out there, and there's always the possibility of rejection.” 

    If his experience creating collectible Topps trading cards is any indication, Star Wars nation will appreciate Hudson's latest work. 

    Hudson signed a contract with the art show agreeing to produce and pay for a limited number of special-edition prints that he will be allowed to sell while sharing some of the proceeds with Disney / Lucas Films. Should he get an offer for the original painting, Disney has the right to counter with an offer of its own. 

    Nonetheless, Hudson said the Orlando show is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

    “It allows me to possibly branch out into bigger jobs,” he said. 

    “It's not an easy field to break into,” he said. “I'm always looking to take the next little step. Once you're on the ladder, you keep trying to climb up.” 

    Hudson said he hopes his good fortune will draw attention to the university and generate “a little recognition” for UMES' art department. 

    How else but to end this tale by extending Hudson a wish that “the Force be with (him).”