Every now and then, we post an image on the blog or our Facebook page that elicits an especially enthusiastic response. Karen Hallion’s La Dauphine Aux Alderaan, an Alphonse Mucha-inspired illustration of Princess Leia, is a recent example.
As a Star Wars fan, I’ve see plenty of clever interpretations of the movie’s iconic characters and scenes. However, this sci-fi homage to Mucha’s La Dame Aux Camelias was unexpected and just plain lovely. It’s the subtle touches that grabbed me, like the Death Star lurking quietly in the sky and decorative Rebel fighter helmets. (By the way, Hallion is a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan who has a dog named Tolkien.)
The Massachusetts-based artist, also known for her Steampunk Disney illustrations, was kind enough to share the story behind La Dauphine Aux Alderaan with Girls Gone Geek.
Girls Gone Geek: How did you come up with the idea to compose an art nouveau portrait of Princess Leia? Is Mucha one of your favorite artists?
Karen Hallion: I have a print of La Dame Aux Camelias by Mucha hanging over my desk. I have had it for 10 years now, and I am a big fan of his work. It always reminded me of Leia. It was always in the back of my mind to combine the two, but one morning a few months ago, I woke up and was just inspired to start it. She is such a strong character, always in the front and in charge. I wanted to show her in a more quiet, peaceful moment.
G3: Leia’s such a tough character, and there’s a softness to this image that is surprising. It reminds us that she’s a princess. How did you choose the piece’s elements?
KH: I really just studied the original painting and made the subtle changes. I enjoyed re-drawing the entire thing, and it helped me to study the amazing linework of Mucha. I learned a lot, especially about drawing fabric. Star Wars in so deeply ingrained in me, and adding those elements almost required no thought. It was almost as if this was just meant to be. I was just putting the pieces together.
G3: Where is Leia in this scenario? I assumed she’s on her home planet of Alderaan because it’s so peaceful.
KH: I am not exactly sure where she is, but I see it as a prelude to Episode 4. It’s a calm-before-the-storm moment. She almost knows what’s ahead, and she is mentally preparing for it.
G3: When did you know you were finally happy with it?
KH: I really spent a long time on her face, I wanted to get the expression right and the likeness correct. I did a few revisions, struggled with it, and then there was a moment when I just got it. And I knew the rest was going to fall together.
G3: What appeals to you about the fantasy aspects of sci-fi and Steampunk? Anyone with a dog named Tolkien must be a proud geek.
KH: Fantasy, sci-fi and Steampunk appeal to the artist in me because of the amazing scope of creativity and imagination. They appeal to the geek in me for the sheer awesomeness and fun. I have been a geek for a long, long time, and my husband is even geekier. Our sons don’t stand a chance. My six-year-old is well on his way becoming a full-fledged geeklet. His lightsaber moves are epic!
G3: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about this image and your approach to art in general?
KH: There is a photo album on my Facebook page that shows this piece in progress. I try to do that when I can. I am an art geek and love to see how things start out, even though sometimes the original sketches are less than perfect.
My approach to art to is to draw what I want to see in the world. I used to worry about what would be popular, what would sell, what other people would want to see. There is some element of that when you are trying to make a living as an artist. But ultimately, my work turns out the best when I turn off all those voices and draw what I love.