Art Matters series features graphic pop artist

By Colleen Kochensparger | @KyKernel

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Interplanetary travel agencies, wartime propaganda posters based on Atari video games, funky retro-futuristic style and more will be featured in the upcoming gallery exhibit of graphic pop artist Steve Thomas in the Student Center Rasdall Gallery from Feb. 7-28.

Thomas is a freelance illustrator and graphic artist.

Thomas spent 14 years working for newspapers to create graphics and illustrations before moving on to work with corporations such as Disney and Marvel, create graphics for businesses such as Best Buy and 3M and, of course, design original works.

As a graphic pop artist, all of his work is done on a computer.

It is a modern type of art, said Brittney Woodrum, the Student Activities Board’s director for cultural arts.

“Steve Thomas specializes mainly in vintage-propaganda-style posters and … retro-futuristic sci-fi,” said Damir Kocer, SAB’s assistant director for cultural arts. “We have a lot of pieces like that that we’ll be featuring in our gallery.”

Thomas’ portfolio includes advertisements for products found in sci-fi television, such as the sonic screwdriver from “Doctor Who,” as well as products based on memorable movie lines, such as the bouncy Laff-It-Up Fuzzball derived from a line in “Star Wars.”

“He also has a group of work about space travel, but not what you would think — advertising different planets like Pluto, Venus and Mars as if a travel agency was doing them — so he has posters with phrases like ‘Ski Pluto’ and ‘Explore the Swamps of Venus,’ ” Kocer said.

Thomas’ retro-futuristic artwork is reminiscent of sci-fi writers of the past.

“I think of authors like (Ray) Bradbury and (H.G.) Wells,” Woodrum said. “It’s kind of like people who were writing about the future in the past, so people from the ’60s and ’70s and how they saw the world we live in today.”

Several SAB boards are collaborating to emphasize the gallery opening and combine several related events.

The gallery’s opening reception Thursday night featured “A Lion Named Roar,” a band from the concert series board.

Woodrum said SAB also is collaborating with the Late Night Film Series.

The LNFS will be showing both “Tron” movies on Friday starting at 7 p.m. in Worsham Theater, and “Tron” posters designed by Thomas will be given away at the showings.

The Thomas gallery exhibit is part of the Art Matters series.

“Art Matters is a series of art events … and a celebration of the arts in a non-traditional fashion,” Woodrum said.

“I really love his style; I love it so much that I’m actually planning to buy one of his pieces directly from him so I can have it in my apartment,” Kocer said.