Welcome to the seventh edition of the Mos Eisley Gazette! This is a series of articles that aims to highlight the passion and effort put forth by event organizers or dedicated fans who keep their local Destiny scenes alive!
Looking for some inspiration to start your own scene or simply want to learn about and get plugged in to an established scene? Join us for each edition of the Mos Eisley Gazette as we get to know the heroes of the many IRL Destiny scenes still kicking around the world and take a brief journey to their local scenes.
Today’s edition is a special one that will focus not on local or IRL Destiny scenes, but rather on another critical aspect of what helps to keep Destiny alive. What’s the first thing we experience when we pick up a card? What immerses us as fans and players and immediately evokes a scene, an epic conflict, or an endearing hero or villain? The art.
Today, we pay homage to Thomas Vienneau, aka DarthVienneau, who recently has gotten involved in creating and donating original art to ARH. Check out his website and you will recognize many of Thomas’s pieces for ARH set 6, Display of Power. You will also notice his other amazing works with a distinct surreal or abstract visual style.
When was the moment you became a fan of Star Wars?
First off, I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to ask about my artwork and how I was able to combine that with Star Wars Destiny. I appreciate being part of this community and the continued support everyone has given both personally and artistically. Also, I am sorry – I’m a little bit like Robert Plant and ramble on…
Growing up my parents would take me to one of the local convenience stores to get snacks and rent movies on the weekends. I always picked out various cartoons and kids movies, everything from G.I. Joe to The Neverending Story. One visit in the late 80s, I was about five or six years old at that time, I saw the cover for Return of the Jedi and was amazed. Being one of those kids who enjoyed villains and monsters I was instantly drawn to Jabba the Hutt, and being a gay kid I was also instantly drawn to Leia, who became my hero! I got to rent my first Star Wars movie and after watching the scenes in Jabba’s Palace for the first time I absolutely fell in love with the creatures and aliens. At the time I really only understood that it was good guys versus bad guys, but I rented that movie soooooo many times growing up!
What was the moment you realized you wanted to be an artist?
I have used sketchpads and drawing books for as long as I remember. Being a creative kid, I always had crayons, paper, and paint sets around me to fuel my imagination. My parents worked at the local airbase too, so they would bring me home notebooks and pads of paper. I’m pretty sure my parents still have some of my old childhood books. By middle school, I was far better acquainted with all three Star Wars movies, and the early 90s books and comics got me practicing Star Wars art. Recreating those iconic scenes was so fun. In high school, I met my first art instructor with whom I studied history and different art styles. I learned various techniques and worked on many projects during my two years with her. I was drawn to being able to express myself through visuals and it was like I learned a new language!
Later at Mount Allison University, I continued working on artwork as much as I could while studying music, philosophy and religious studies. After five years of university, I had become dissatisfied and decided to leave and pursue artwork. I moved to nearby Moncton, New Brunswick in 2007. This was when I was finally able to let my creative Jawa juices flow, create more freely, and over time it became an artwork train that never stopped. I worked a job and spent the rest of my time painting and practicing. There was also access to more supplies for me to create there so I took full advantage. Looking back, I think it was always in me to be an artist, I just needed to nudge myself a little. So wait, what was the question again? 🙂
What is your favorite kind of art to create?
I love creating figurative and abstract work using acrylic paint on canvas. For me, abstract paintings are like an emotional snapshot and tend to convey one thought or idea. My figurative work lets me express my own or other peoples’ stories with human forms and whimsical backgrounds. With these paintings’ I also love using lots of colour in faces and features to express mood and emotion. Aside from that, I have also been digging digital artwork lately. It’s been amazing to learn to paint this way and as an artist the new challenge is refreshing and inspiring.
How did you get into Star Wars Destiny?
I first noticed Star Wars Destiny in March 2019 advertised in some comic books I was reading. It looked fun, and I thought it could be something I would enjoy as I was looking for something to do outside of the house. I was also drawn to the artwork. My local comic shop had some booster packs, so I bought a few. Why not? There was a group of about 8 people who got together on Mondays I found out, so I joined one week to watch some games and see Destiny in action. It seemed like perfect entertainment – characters, weapons, rolling in dice and all the different actions. I dove in by buying the 2-player starter, draft kits, and a boat-load of booster packs! From there I went on to find games and tutorials on YouTube and began creating my decks to play with the locals.
How did you get involved with the ARH format?
At the initial pandemic stages, everything in New Brunswick shut down just days before the release of Covert Missions, so my local group didn’t get the chance to draft it. We didn’t play for months, but we kept chatting, building decks and kept our ears to the ground. After hearing the sad news from FFG that they were giving Star Wars Destiny the boot, like everyone, we were pretty disheartened. I had only been in the game a year and loved the weekly games. One of the group members had heard through the grapevine that there was going to be a continuing committee put together to maintain the game, which got us excited about the game again after such a long time away. Finally in February 2021, I found my way to Discord and started getting myself acquainted with ARH, while my buddy Parker taught me the ropes of TTS. I made my official entry into the ARH format at the Canto Bight Galactic Open and had a blast playing my 4-LOM/Zuckuss deck.
How did you get involved with the ARH continuation committee to donate your art?
I suppose through happenstance and being a shameless self-promoter, hahaha. Echo3ofclubs and I were playing during an ARH Sunday Funday in late-February of 2022. We have chatted before about High Republic publications, etc. before so this time around I thought I’d mention starting digital artwork. I knew he was on the ARH admin team so I told him that I was working some Star Wars art and he was interested and said to drop some samples his way. A few weeks later, I showed him the beginnings of The Palace and Max Rebo and he immediately asked for them to be in set six!
What was the process of working with the ARH production team like?
It was really great to work with people who are as passionate about creating and continuing Star Wars Destiny as I am about creating and continuing artwork. Everybody in this community has jobs and a life of their own, so to get a peek at the hard work that everyone here at ARH does – it’s nothing short of amazing! I have contributed only a few art pieces and some play testing time which feels like nothing compared to what the team as a whole accomplishes. I kept Echo3 up to date quite often on my artwork and communicated with Sarah, majobasil, and other ARH team members. It’s probably an occupational hazard of mine but now I can’t help but view ARH as an art piece. Many people are weaving this wonderful tapestry together and it felt good to have a few threads and be part of something bigger. I hope to work with these crazy kids again soon on the next project!
What’s it like to see your work on SWD cards hitting the tabletop?
It has literally been a dream come true. Back in the mid-90s, the first three series of Topps Star Wars Galaxy trading cards were an obsession of mine. Ralph McQuarrie and the Hildebrandt brothers were a huge inspiration and I used to dream of creating Star Wars card art. Now 30 years later, here I am – check! You would never know it, but I love to talk, so it was hard for me to keep things under wraps, especially from my friends. I did not even post the artwork on my website. When Echo3 told me he wanted to use my Vader piece (his favourite) for the release I was pretty thrilled about that. Since digital art is my newest medium, seeing people react to and appreciate my work has been wonderful and super encouraging. I was unable to participate in the release event on December 3rd due to artistic commitments, but I watched several games on Twitch. It was so surreal seeing my artwork there on the table! I’ve also received many encouraging messages from the community, including other ARH artists, so I cannot thank everyone enough for that.
Is your art process for SWD different from your normal day to day art process?
Absolutely. Working on canvases can be spontaneous, and I feel more free to let the work flow out. Often times, I will still have a concept in mind, but since my paintings are physical objects they can change and reshape themselves as the work progresses. With creating the digital art pieces for ARH, I felt like I needed to be a little more structured and less abstract with my approach, and since Star Wars is such a big part of my life, I wanted to make sure to do it justice. I always consider mathematics when painting and these pieces were no exception, but the method was different. With canvas I tend to map everything out mentally, but with the digital artwork, I actually adopted using a grid to help while composing the images. I also use more reference photos for my digital pieces than I do with acrylic paintings so I can make sure everything is nice and clean. The concept of layering was also quite different. With canvas, again, I see the layers in my head and have to figure out when to work on them, but with digital I can work on layers individually and add and remove them to see how it effects everything.
I have to say the biggest difference with digital paintings is that I see them differently, almost like a puzzle and built piece by piece. I tend to work on all the outlines first, then add in colours and texture. The best example of this would probably be The Palace where all the rocky formations are reminiscent of puzzle pieces. There are definitely skills that carry over, but digital is a different set of dice for me.
What inspires you?
People do. Everybody has a story, dreams, a history, a whole life that is their own. We have hopes, despair and regrets. We yearn to be expressive, be connected, to just be. Each of us also speaks our own language and mine is through art. I don’t always paint my own story and am inspired by people that I have met, people that I have not, places I’ve been, and different sociopolitical goings-on. People always connect with art in various ways because we all share similar experiences. And Star Wars. Star Wars will always inspire me.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
Don’t stop, keep going. And do something fun every day. There will likely be many times that an artist will want to throw in the towel. You have to practice, learn, have patience and motivation, and you have to fail. This is necessary in order for you to get back up again and keep trying to move forward. If you create something you don’t like – and you will, numerous times – look at it not as a mistake but as a learning experience. Everybody poops and nobody’s perfect. For me, each painting is a practice and a chance to learn for the next one. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we can’t always figure things out on our own, so having a community or people you know in the same field is an asset. Personally, I have to thank Parker Simpson, CosmicNewt, and Sarah for their invaluable advice and kindness in helping me navigate in the digital arena. Artists can and should help other artists.
Building off that, try to be nice. It’s easy to get disgruntled, especially when trying to make a name for yourself and get into galleries, but try to smile and play nice with the other artists. Other than that, I would say to make sure you have an online presence and display your work. Get yourself some business cards and don’t be afraid to promote yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. Being active and engaging will ensure that you are in control of your path and eventually people will notice you. I guess, finally, don’t say no to any opportunities because you never know what can happen because of them. Life and art are kind of like improv; it works best when you say, “Yes, and…”
How should folks get in touch with you if they want to learn more?
People can find me on my website – www.thomasvienneau.com – there you can view my digital gallery, contact me, and check out the Store for original artworks.
I’m also available through social media:
Instagram – @thomas_vienneau
Facebook – Thomas Vienneau – Artist (@VienneauArt)
Discord – DarthVienneau
I have also recently launched new prints and other goodies at https://fineartamerica.com/art/thomas+vienneau – and yes, my ARH artwork is there too! Feel free to drop me a line anytime and have a chat or if you’re interested in any commission work!
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk to you about my artwork, and thank you to ARH for letting me crash at the art department for a while!
Thomas – Thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourself and your art. You are an inspiration, and we cannot wait to see what art you create next!
If you have a local Destiny scene, or are interested in starting one up, please reach out to us HERE. We would love to support you in kicking off something new or simply reinforcing the scene you’ve already built!
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