The approval process for collector items with CBS is rigorous and multi-staged. And rightfully so, given the importance of the Star Trek brand to both CBS and fans. Back in February of this year, after completing this long process, I released the Season One Limited Edition prints through Retrospect Studios. The collector prints were incredibly well-received and fans immediately started asking about the future seasons to build their collections. To that end, I decided it was best that I start choosing the Season Two pieces now.
With 35 Star Trek paintings to choose from, this was not as easy a task as I first thought it might be. Since fans became aware of my painting series, many have asked me to offer specific pieces based on personal preferences. Some of these requests were for Trek characters other than Spock. With that in mind, the question was now not only “Which pieces do I offer in Season Two?”, but “Which characters do I offer?”.
In the face of this second and more complex question of “which character?” I turned to my following of Trek fans on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I posted images of two pieces I was stuck between: Spock or Scotty? I asked fans to tell me which one they wanted to see and purchase, and the answer came back loud and clear… Scotty it was!
Grateful for the clarity offered by fans, I turned to them once more, asking them to help me choose between two Spock pieces that were now vying for the last spot on my Season Two roster (the “Two Dimensional Thinking” Spock or the “Edge of Forever” Spock). This time the answer was not so clear. There was enthusiastic and equal support for both pieces…ugh! It seemed that I was going to have to break this dead-heat on my own.
I stepped back, hemmed and hawed, using all the logic I could find at my disposal. In the end however, I had to come to the realization that there was no ‘right’ answer. There was only one question that needed to be answered… “Which one do I really WANT to offer right now?” And the answer to that was loud and clear: it was the “Edge of Forever” Spock… a piece that spoke to me deeply both from an artistic expression viewpoint, as well as from the viewpoint of philosophical contemplation.
So, with my six pieces chosen (one each of Kirk, McCoy and Scotty, and three Spocks), I began the long road to approvals. Interestingly, because my first season comprised only of Spock images (as played by Leonard Nimoy), the only non-CBS person I had to receive approval from was Susan Nimoy (being the head of Leonard Nimoy’s estate). This time, I would have to receive approvals from William Shatner himself, the estates of DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and of course, Susan Nimoy again. This seemed somehow to raise the bar that I would have to jump over for approvals. And to that extent I sent in my images with an awareness that all might not be smooth sailing. In fact, I said as much to Kunaal, my licensing rep.
About a week ago, Kunaal sent an email message to me, the overall essence of which was: there should be no problem with any of the images… except for the “Edge of Forever” piece. It appeared that the specific piece was facing non-approval because Spock’s mouth was open in the image. I was admittedly surprised… and simultaneously somewhat amused! It was ironic to me that the one piece that I had asked myself how much I wanted to offer it, and the answer was “VERY MUCH”, was the one piece that would be rejected from the outset. And for it to be rejected for a reason that I never considered would be an issue seemed even comical!
I was now faced with a choice: pull the piece altogether (for now and possibly for the future as well) and offer another in its place (likely the “Two Dimensional Thinking” Spock), or explain my artistic rational for the piece in hopes that the piece would be reconsidered. I chose the later. The truth is, Spock’s mouth being open is no accident. You see, the pieces in which I have chosen to paint him with an open mouth is, to me, an impressionistic choice to portray a transient moment of emotion. Through that simple ajar nature of his mouth, we can sense the grappling between logic and emotion within his character’s inner world that will be gone in the next moment.
I’d like to say that it’s all resolved now and that “Edge of Forever” is now officially in the Season Two offerings, but at the time of writing this post, I, like you, still wait to see. I accept the outcome, whatever it may be. As an artist, I am called to make the difficult choice between personal artistic vision and approval, and at times, these two don’t go together. And I choose to hold to my vision. In the end, the impossible choice, it seems, is not nearly so impossible.