2015 was a big year for the popularity of space. So perhaps you'll forgive NASA if the space agency wants to capitalize on that momentum with some stellar new artwork.
Today, Seattle design firm Invisible Creature — which has done work for clients like Nike, Seattle Weekly, Target, and many more — released three gorgeous new space-themed travel posters commissioned by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a 2016 calendar that will be given to NASA staff, scientists, engineers, and government officials. JPL will also release digital copies of each month's artwork for free, but you can buy physical prints of Invisible Creature's posters on the firm's website.
The idea is not terribly new — JPL has commissioned posters, infographics, and other artwork in the past, and you can dig through a pretty extensive archive on the lab's website. But there is something striking about Invisible Creature's posters and the detail they involve. Each one rewards closer inspection and repeat viewings thanks to some clever design.
The project was a bit of a dream come true for Don Clark, who started Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan Clark in 2006. "We, of course, were ecstatic, just because our grandfather was an illustrator at NASA for 30 years, and so this is kind of our first NASA project," Clark tells The Verge.
NASA came to the Clark brothers back in the fall of 2015 wanting posters for Enceladus, Mars, and the Voyager missions. "They gave us notes, bullet points, kind of what topics or themes that visually should be hit in each poster," Clark says. From there, Clark and his team sketched out a number of ideas to present back to NASA. "We definitely had an inspiration board of like, vintage posters, travel posters, WPA posters," Clark says. "That stuff’s in our wheelhouse, it’s the stuff that we love to do."
Each poster will appear on a different month of the calendar, and they each carry a different theme. One, called "The Grand Tour," is an ode to NASA's Voyager missions. The twin spacecraft extensively studied the planets that make up our solar system after they were launched in the early 1970s. NASA used the gravity of each of these planets to increase the velocity of each spacecraft, giving them enough of boost to reach the outer edges of our solar system. Both of those components of the Voyager missions make up the basis for the poster.
The other two posters are reminiscent of the ones made by SpaceX last May (or the "Exoplanet Travel Bureau" posters commissioned by JPL a little over a year ago) in that they advertise particular locations that humans might someday visit. One implores travelers to visit "more than 100 breathtaking geysers" on the south pole of Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, while the other teases a more familiar destination: Mars.
The Mars poster blends symbols of rockets, planes, agriculture, and one of the rovers into a scene that imagines an established human presence on the Red Planet. It almost makes it feel like we're just years away from NASA being able to offer trips to and from Mars — that is, until you remember the agency has no plan or money to fund such a trip.
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