The Apprentice Awakens

Craig Drake is a name synonymous with MilnersBlog, as I’m such a massive fan of his Patrick Nagel ‘Pop Culture’ style of visualisation, although now its about time we lay down any reference to his work being any homage to the late Nagel, and instead embrace him for the talented awakening artist he has now become in forging his own palette of Geekologie inspired art, which firmly embraces visual film culture, instead of the pop culture style which Patrick Nagel presented.

He recently presented a well deserved Solo Art Show at the Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles, and I’ll admit the show looked like it was on another level…as you can see in the pictures below, Drake showcased a huge body of work of iconic film culture heroes! He even saved four special works of art until the end of the show, the best space ship in film culture in my opinion, the “Millennium Falcon” plus a few new additions to his film culture palette with Lucas/Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and also The Hobbit with a the beautiful dragon Smaug and the graceful Gandalf the White which was screen printed on a brushed aluminium.

carrie fisher princess leia by craig drake
carrie fisher princess leia by craig drake

In an interview with the Hero Complex Gallery he gave a rare insight into his creative process.

Craig Drake’s Creative Process

Craig Drake has hit the ground running with Hero Complex Gallery! For our first show, Weapon of Choice, he created 3 stunning pieces: MacReady from The Thing, and two versions of Hanzo’d, featuring a sexy close-up of art inspired by the character O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill. His work has a style that is reminiscent of the celebrated 80’s artist, Patrick Nagel.

Craig hails from the chilly suburbs north of 8 Mile Road in the Detroit, Michigan area. Determined to be an artist, he studied at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. In 1998, Craig moved to San Francisco and worked for several years doing freelance design and animation for companies such as Adobe and EA (Electronic Arts). In 2006, he transitioned to Lucasfilm where he created his first Nagel homage of Princess Leia. This piece was then printed as a signed, limited edition poster.

In Craig’s own words, “Like a lot of Star Wars fans, having grown up in the ’80s, I was exposed to some amazing signature pop culture visuals. Truthfully, [Nagel’s] style really annoyed me as a kid, but as time went on I began rediscovering his work — his brilliantly minimalist yet bold vision of beautiful, strong women is what inspired me to illustrate Princess Leia.” From the original Leia poster, a line of five other Nagel-inspired Star Wars character pieces were spawned.

Since then, Craig’s popularity as a world-class artist has exploded! Last year alone, Craig produced numerous pieces showcasing his brilliant style featuring beloved characters from movies such as Blade Runner, The Bride of FrankensteinMetropolis, Black Swan and Escape From New York, just to name a few. With his clean lines and stylized take on portraits of pop culture icons, it’s no wonder why fans are clamouring to get a Drake on their walls!

When I asked Craig to breakdown his creative process, he had this to say, “First I start with rough pencil sketches to block in shapes. At this stage, not much reference is used to keep the original composition vision pure.

From there I might make a tightened pencil. Then hi-res images are gathered to soak in the subject’s details. Second stage is the drawing the final vector itself. Using Adobe Illustrator [and] using my trusty Wacom set up, this process takes anywhere from 1 to 2 days. Best part is this Illustrator master is print ready after a few technical mods to make separations for silkscreen posters. Third stage is painting. Which can take up to 5 days for larger pieces like R.J. MacReady.

Since the master drawing is complete digitally, I then use it as an exact guide and draw the image to scale on illustration board. After that I use gouache paint to bring it to life. I love engineering in small variances between the digital composition and the one of a kind painting. Even collectors have picked up and geeked out on these details, which makes me very happy.”

Since the show he’s forged ahead producing countless more stunning pieces of Mondo Art, his latest was for the organisers of Star Wars Celebration VII, the travelling confab that celebrates all things connected to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, which returns to Craig’s home state of California at the Anaheim Convention Centre from the 16th-19th of April 2015. 

I wonder if he’ll be producing a calendar like he did for Star Wars Celebration VI with some new artwork for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” before the 2015 release date… Fingers crossed

A brief selection of his work he’s done since the Solo Art Show… he’s a busy man 🙂

Finally a rare find, some Mondo Art he did for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus which was sadly never used.

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