A talent agency that represents former NASA astronauts is launching a unique take on its clients' spacesuited portraits, collaborating with a popular artist to produce a new illustrated poster series featuring the space travelers they manage.
uniphi space agency, a division of the celebrity marketing and management company uniphi good LLC, has turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund its first art poster in a new series of astronaut-inspired designsby Chop Shop, the Brooklyn-based print house known for its iconic pop-culture artwork.
"I am excited for this unique piece of space memorabilia," said Michelle Lucas, a former NASA astronaut trainer and vice president at uniphi space agency. "I've been a 'space geek' and collector since I was young and can't remember seeing anything like this." [Earth From Space: Amazing Astronaut Photos]
"I literally cannot wait to add this to my office wall," Lucas said.
The first poster depicts all 18 of uniphi's current crew of astronauts and features the motto, "The path less traveled is paved with stars." Each astronaut portrait is accompanied by a star, forming a constellation around an illustration of a space shuttle orbiter and the International Space Station, the vehicles on which the men and women flew.
"I believe the first generation to consider space travel to be not so uncommon is here among us now. Being a part of a community that helps to promote this idea of people going beyond the terrestrial bond is exciting for me and as a designer is the most attractive kind of project one can hope to be a part of," Thomas Romer, the artist behind the poster and owner of Chop Shop, said in a statement.
The uniphi space agency's astronaut corps includes shuttle mission and station expedition commanders, and men and women who have ventured outside to walk in space. They include Pam Melroy, who was one of only two women to pilot the shuttle; Fred Gregory, the first black astronaut to command a space mission; and David Wolf, whose seven spacewalks totaled more than 40 hours.
Other veteran astronauts depicted on the poster include Clay Anderson, Leroy Chiao, Frank Culbertson and Susan Helms.
"We figured [that] it was time to celebrate these incredible astronauts, and their experiences, through our 'We Believe In Astronauts' campaign," said Annie Balliro, the president and CEO of uniphi good and the uniphi space agency.
In addition to the poster, the Kickstarter campaignis also funding a postcard set that features each astronaut on his or her own individual card.
Backers can choose from either the poster, limited to 500 prints, or the postcards, which are limited to 100 sets, for a pledge of $75. Or, for $500, supporters can receive one of the 50 posters or postcard sets to be autographed by all 18 astronauts depicted in the artwork.
Other campaign perks include "We Believe in Astronauts" collectible coins, signed copies of some of the astronauts' own books, and embroidered mission patches created for uniphi by Tim Gagnon, who has been behind more than 10 of the patches that astronauts and cosmonauts have worn into space.
At the higher levels of support, which begin at $1,500 and climb to $10,000, backers can also choose to have their own portrait illustrated as an astronaut, have an astronaut record their voicemail message, go out for "ice cream or coffee" with an astronaut, or book one of the astronauts to come speak to their group or class.
Balliro said it is not "rocket science" why the people at the center of their poster campaign are so appealing in pop culture.
"Who are the humans who are brave enough to blast off into space? Astronauts. Who are the ones who put on an EVA [space] suit and get out there in the vastness of our universe? Astronauts," she said.
For more details or to reserve your own poster, see uniphi space agency's Kickstarter campaign: kck.st/1O9h8g4
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.