Star Wars Celebration Will Feature Volusia County Artist’s Painting
DELEON SPRINGS — As far back as he can remember, L. Jason Queen has loved Star Wars.
He still remembers his father taking him to see the first movie, retroactively titled “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” in 1977 when he was just over 2 years old.
While Queen, 47, can’t attend this year’s Star Wars Celebration, which takes place in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday through Sunday, her passion for the franchise will be on display for tens of thousands of attendees.
After receiving submissions from around the world, Lucasfilm and Acme Archives chose pieces by Queen and 20 other artists to be licensed for display at the convention’s art exhibit.
Acme Archives is the official licensee of art products for several film, television and game companies. Licensing allows artists, such as Queen, to receive royalties in exchange for the company reproducing and selling their work.
Queen’s piece, dubbed “Legacy in the Making,” focuses on the Mandalorians, fictional characters known for their iconic armor.
“It’s been an adventure, to say the least,” Queen said during an interview this month at her home and studio. “There are certain bells I want to ring in my career, and that’s the one I’ve been working on since 2017.”
The limited edition print of the DeLeon Springs man – the original is oil paint on hardboard – is already a hit. Of the 250 copies available, fans picked up 179 during the pre-sale period that ran from May 2-16. The remaining copies will be available for purchase during the convention, which takes place every two years or when there is a new movie in the Star Wars franchise.
Cooking up a winner
“There’s just something I love about them,” Queen said of The Mandalorians.
The play features several characters including Boba Fett; Jango Fett; Bo-Katan Kryze; The armourer; Sabine Wren; Din Djarin; and Grogu, also known as The Child, who is colloquially referred to as Baby Yoda.
Queen noticed while watching ‘The Mandalorian’ on Disney+ that the word ‘tribe’ came up multiple times; it made him think of Native American totem poles and, eventually, the Tree of Life sculpture at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“Then I took some characters that I really liked in the stories and kind of combined them,” Queen said.
Queen, who describes her style as “organized chaos”, spent about a month working on the piece.
He cites NC Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish as some of his influences.
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“It was a long and tedious process because you had to have reference pieces,” Queen said.
Lucasfilm and Acme Archives required artists to share their reference pieces to ensure characters were properly detailed.
Queen put Boba Fett’s character at the top of the room because he’s the first Mandalorian seen in the Star Wars franchise – specifically “The Empire Strikes Back,” which Queen remembers seeing when he was 5 years old.
“[Fett] was just this mysterious character that appears on screen and takes Han Solo,” Queen said.
A family matter
Almost four months after receiving the good news of her article, Queen still feels a sense of disbelief.
He said he didn’t expect to be one of the chosen ones and just hoped to get more feedback on his work from the Acme Archives.
Queen interviewed the company in 2017 when Star Wars Celebration came to Orlando. He said they told him that although he did a good job, he was not ready and had to work to find his style.
After receiving these comments, he changed his plans. Instead of spending all the $500 he brought to the convention on merchandise, he bought one item and used the rest to invest in art supplies.
Christy Queen said she admired the way her husband responded to the criticism.
“If it was me, I think I probably would have said ‘OK, I quit,'” said Christy, 47.
But the tenacity of the artist was not new.
In 2004, two weeks after earning her master’s degree in painting and illustration from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, Queen suffered serious injuries in a car accident.
He was in an induced coma and spent nearly a month in intensive care.
Once conscious, Queen could only draw a spiral; he said he tries to hide one in every piece he creates. It took a year to learn to walk again and he underwent 28 surgeries over the next decade.
Queen and her family moved to Florida in 2015.
The support of his family was instrumental in his recovery and continued throughout his budding career.
After informing his wife and children of “Legacy in the Making” being accepted into the convention, Queen called his father, Larry Queen, in Ohio.
“We were proud of him, there’s no doubt about it,” Larry said in a phone interview. “It made my day.”
Larry also remembers taking his son to see the first Star Wars movie.
“He just sat there the whole movie, never moving,” Larry said.
He said he still had several of his son’s early works on display at his home.
L. Jason Queen said his own son and daughter, Morgan Queen, 25, and Maria Queen, 18, influence a number of his concepts.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, that’s cool, dad, but what if you did this?'” Jason said.
Maria, who is leaving home this summer to go to college, said her favorite work from her dad was ‘Stranger Things’ characters; it was also the first piece he had under license.
Queen said her daughter’s cosplay of the character named “Eleven” served as inspiration.
Currently, Queen is working on concepts for Star Wars and Marvel as well as commissioned pieces.
He also creates his own story with his own characters.
During the pandemic, Queen learned about leatherworking, which he incorporates into a line of pieces collectively dubbed “Spiritus Piratae” or “Spirit of the Pirate.”
But the dream job would involve Queen working with a lord, specifically “The Lord of the Rings.”
Visit queenscovecreative.com to learn more about Queen’s work.