I have always felt that fan art is an important part of the Star Wars community and adds to thelegacy of the franchise. Fans have created countless works of art inspired by the movies, TV shows, and expanded universe, which have in turn, inspired others to continue creating and exploring the world of Star Wars. Fan art provides a platform for creativity and helps fans to connect through a shared passion for all things Star Wars. Fan art brings to life fan theories, alternate interpretations, and fan-made characters, contributing to the Star Wars universe. Without fan art, the Star Wars community would be much less interesting, and the franchise might not have the same lasting impact that it does today. Artist Dave Sherrill is one of those artists.
Dave Sherrill, known by his Instagram handle “DaveRuinsArt,” is an Ohio artist who has gained a following on social media for his satirical and pop culture artwork. Dave has carved out a unique niche in modern art with a distinct style that blends pop culture references and a healthy dose of humor so I was excited when he agreed to an interview with Star Wars Reporter to talk about his unique art and fun perspective to the fandom.
How would you describe your style of art and what inspired you to combine Star Wars themes on old thrift store paintings?
DS: I like to think of myself as a novelty artist; I think my paintings are very funny. I laugh when I make them. I want to spread joy and have fun and enjoy myself. I also love movies and immersive fictional universes like Star Wars. I am most known for my movie themes added to thrifted paintings, but I also do black velvet paintings like in the seventies, and I’m trying to learn to paint like the Vintage clown paintings.
Can you walk us through your creative process for one of your Star Wars-inspired paintings?
DS: I’ll get a motel painting and then I’ll look at it for very very long time trying to decide what planet it is and what race would be there and what they might be doing and what would be interesting to see. I also just literally try and make them as fun as possible and sometimes fun for me is something on fire or smoking or lit up or neon. Sometimes I like to make things black light reactive or glow in the dark. These all seem like really silly choices for art to me. When I think about how many people have seen this dumbart that I’m doing it really makes me laugh and I’m glad that I made that many people happy.
Have you noticed any particular challenges or differences in using Star Wars as a theme versus other pop culture references in your art?
DS: I don’t know why people react to my art like this, when I get millions of views I don’t really understand why it’s not an artist with training instead. I honestly think my art looks very flawed but it somehow conveys my excitement about Star Wars stuff. When I build something I get to live in that universe for a little bit. When I paint I feel like I’m on Tattoine or Degobah. Being an artist I can’t afford to go to fun vacations, and I’m lucky to get to do this for a little bit.
What are some other pop culture themes that you use in your work?
DS: I love vintage fictional fantasy movies so I like adding Harry from Harry and the Hendersons or 20 Million Miles to Earth or 80s horror films. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and that’s my favorite thing to do but I worry I’m getting too popular to keep making dumb fan art. I think I probably need to start inventing and designing my own monsters, aliens and spaceships. I want to create my own universe of characters and places. George Lucas made Star Wars because he couldn’t get the rights to Buck Rogers.. but would we have loved those movies as much? It’s probably time to make my own stuff. I’m studying illustration and practicing and having fun. I’m not there yet but I’ll get there.
Your art with Ewok themes is my favorite (#Ewok4Life). Do you have a favorite character or scene from the Star Wars films that you particularly enjoy painting, and why?
DS: Oh my god, why do people hate Ewoks so much? They are so fun. They are little teddy bears that EAT PEOPLE AND WEAR THEIR SKULLS! Everyone thinks the Ewoks are cute but they are violent primitives! Honestly I don’t understand how ANYONE complains about any Star Wars stuff. It’s dumb fun, it’s a sugary treat for your eyes and ears. I thought the prequels were amazing when they came out, I saw them the first night they opened and absolutely loved it. Hahaha sorry I got off topic. Anything with monsters and aliens is my favorite. I like gross weird creatures. I get physically excited by painting some Jawa or a Rancor or the weird cantina creatures.
I really love your videos responding to hate comments about your art. Your responses are very funny! Star Wars has devout fans who are both divided and dedicated when it comes to their love of Star Wars. Are you concerned with how the fans will respond to your art?
DS: I want to give my audience joy, I want them to take a break from their worries and see me having fun and not caring about hateful people. In truth those comments really do hurt. I’ve cried because of them and one negative comment outweighs all the love because insults are always kinda true. I didn’t get an art education so sometimes people point out that something feels rushed or that I chose the wrong color. That feels really embarrassing but I use those comments and an opportunity to learn where I should study and grow. I literally think to myself “you may strike me down but I will become more powerful than you will ever imagine.
Recently a painting got 4 million views and it really started to worry me. I’m reaching a point where I’m going to get seen by George Lucas or Favreau or Filoni and I think that would be really embarrassing because they KNOW art. They seem professionally trained artist do amazing things all day every day. Star Wars is IMHO the very best art being made and I worry I’m making a mockery of that with my rudimentary and clunky style. It makes me desperate to learn color theory and perspective and all the things that make an artist good. Ten percent of people fucking HATE my art and I worry that George might be one of them. If I offended my favorite creator by playing with his day dream I would embarrassed. It makes my stomach hurt to think about it.
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It’s been 46 years since Star Wars first released in theaters and we are still talking about it today. What is it about Star Wars that attracts fans to a galaxy far, far away?
DS: I’m actually 47 and have seen every film in the theater when it was released including the 77 release when I was 1 year old. My parents had a cool shag carpet van and would take us all to the drive in movie theater in Decatur, Texas.
I think about why Star Wars works so well and I think it’s Luke. I think his character is written in a way that you instantly relate to him. He’s a nobody on the worst planet working on his uncle’s farm doing manual labor. He’s a farm boy without opportunity and he has a bold adventure. I watched Valerian the other day and the monsters were great but I couldn’t give a shit about the main characters, they looked like rich handsome kids and I can’t relate to that. I grew up on a farm in north Texas, my parents wanted me to be a construction worker and I’m out seeking my adventure.
Can you discuss any upcoming projects or collaborations you have in the works?
DS: I think I might be stopping my fan art. I don’t have a lot of followers or sell a lot of prints but i would be so embarrassed if Lucas saw my dumb art and hated it. I wanna learn traditional art skills and make my own droids and aliens and spaceships and universe. Lately I can’t seem to do Star Wars without worrying about if it’s seen by my favorite creators and they didn’t like it. It’s too heavy.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are interested in exploring Star Wars themes in their own work?
DS: Paint what you love and people will feel your love in the work. Art is feelings and those feelings echo in your audience. Give yourself the gift of painting what you love.