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Space Art in Star Trek: The Next Generation
by
Jörg Hillebrand, Bernd Schneider, Rick Sternbach, Dave Archer and Mike Okuda

Introduction - List of Pictures - Addendum

 

Introduction

In all Star Trek series we could see various pictures and other pieces of wall decoration to let the crew quarters and lounges of the ships appear more attractive. TNG was no exception. Some items are of special interest, such as the space-themed photos and paintings that appeared from the first to the mid-fifth season. After that these pictures disappeared from the series. They were replaced with a number of pastel-colored round or angular wall decorations that also found their way to Voyager.

Much of the space artwork was created by Rick Sternbach, who would lend the items to the production. The second regular contributor to TNG was Dave Archer, whose special expertise is Tesla coil painting. More art along similar lines was contributed by Mike Okuda. This article provides a summary of all space-themed artwork that was visible in TNG. As usual, Jörg has compiled for each painting in which places and in which episodes they could be seen. In addition, we could find out with Rick Sternbach's support who created the paintings, what exactly is depicted on them and what they were originally created for (sometimes for covers of sci-fi magazines and books). Rick also provided clearer images of several of his works that can be seen in the column "picture".

The paintings are listed roughly chronologically by their first appearances.

 

List of Pictures

Versatile pictures Each of the following pictures with more or less generic (and hence versatile) motifs such as moons, planets, stars and nebulae appeared in various episodes, usually in more than one place, and sometimes in different shapes and sizes.

#

Picture

Background information

Location

Episodes

Remarks

01

Rick Sternbach: "Neptune seen from Triton. Published by Astronomy Magazine ages ago, as well as The Planetary Society."

Observation lounge

"Encounter at Farpoint"
"The Naked Now"
"Code of Honor"
"The Last Outpost"
"Haven"
"The Big Goodbye"
"Datalore"
"Too Short a Season"
"When the Bough Breaks"
"Coming of Age"
"Skin of Evil"
"We'll Always Have Paris"
"The Neutral Zone"


This is one of two paintings that can be seen in the observation lounge in the first season. In this season there were no monitors on the two narrow sides of the lounge, which allowed to decorate these wall sections with paintings. The second one is #02.

The painting #01 later shows up in Geordi's quarters, always above his bed, and in Shelby's guest quarters.

Geordi's quarters

"The Most Toys"
"The Mind's Eye"

Shelby's guest quarters

"The Best of Both Worlds I"

02

Rick Sternbach: "SS433 -- An exotic neutron star binary, as seen from an airless and radiation-ravaged world nearby. Piece for Science Digest illustrating an article by Dr. William Kaufmann."

The picture can be found at Rick Sternbach's website.

Observation lounge

"Encounter at Farpoint"
"Code of Honor"
"The Last Outpost"
"The Big Goodbye"
"Datalore"
"Coming of Age"
"Symbiosis"
"Skin of Evil"
"We'll Always Have Paris"
"Conspiracy"
"The Neutral Zone"


This is the second painting from the observation lounge of the first season. It could never be seen anywhere else.

Looking into the observation lounge from outside, painting #01 is always on the left (port) and painting #02 on the right (starboard). Only in "Coming of Age" the sides are switched.

03

Rick Sternbach: "Moon Soon Gone - done for fun or convention sale back in 1973."

"Moon crashing back into the Earth."

"A lot of the bits listed as 'fun/con sale' were just that; done for fun or for sale at SF art shows."

Yar's quarters

"The Naked Now"


This picture shows up in various places, most frequently in Crusher's and Worf's quarters. Only in "Measure of a Man" its orientation is horizontal.

Crusher's quarters

"The Naked Now"
"Lonely Among Us"

Guest quarters

"The Neutral Zone"

Data's quarters

"Measure of a Man"

Worf's quarters

"Peak Performance"
"Reunion"

04

Rick Sternbach: "It's supposed to be the Milky Way, as part of a cover painting from Larry Niven's 'Known Space' stories published by Del Rey."

Tales of Known Space by Larry Niven

Yar's quarters

"The Naked Now"


#04 can be seen in various quarters. In "Haven" there is an amusing blooper. Between two takes of the same scene the painting changes its orientation. Troi definitely wouldn't have had the time to turn it upside down.

Rick Sternbach originally intended this painting to be vertical.

Geordi's quarters

"Code of Honor"

Guest quarters

"Haven"
"The Vengeance Factor"

Data's quarters

"Legacy"

05

Rick Sternbach: "Another one of mine, inspired by a similar work by Chesley Bonestell."

Bonestell's work appeared in the series The World We Live In in the LIFE Magazine in 1952.

"Mine is called 'Beginning of a World - But Whose?' Done back in the 70s."

Yar's quarters

"The Naked Now"

This painting appears only in "The Naked Now" -- when Data proves to Tasha that he is "fully functional".

06

Rick Sternbach: "Typical nebula - fun/con sale."

Troi's quarters

"The Naked Now"


#06 is another painting that could be seen only during the first season. It is usually hanging upright, only in "The Naked Now" its orientation is horizontal.

Riker's quarters

"Lonely Among Us"
"Haven"

Picard's quarters

"Justice"

Guest quarters

"Symbiosis"
"Conspiracy"

07

Rick Sternbach: "This one was another of mine, nicknamed 'Serpent's World' because of the surface coloration. Rotate the painting 90 degrees counter-clockwise for its original orientation."

"The structure [in the bottom right hand corner] was a fairly low-detail teardrop shape; it's supposed to be a fusion-powered landing craft with a very shiny reflective surface."

Crusher's quarters

"The Naked Now"



In "The Naked Now", "Too Short a Season" and "Conspiracy" this picture still appears in its original vertical orientation. After that we can only see it hanging horizontally. It appears in the observation lounge throughout the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seasons and is among the most seen paintings of the series. 

Usually this item can be found on the port side of the lounge. Only at the beginning of season 3 (from "Evolution" to "The Defector") we can see it on the opposite side. After the redesign of the lounge (in the course of which the ship reliefs were replaced with a square-edged wall structure) the painting never shows up again.

Guest quarters

"Too Short a Season"
"Coming of Age"
"Symbiosis"

Starfleet Headquarters

"Conspiracy"

Observation lounge

"The Child" – "Redemption I"

08

Rick Sternbach: "Denkir II, a fictional planet I had some fun with." 1)

Crusher's quarters

"The Naked Now"


This painting can be seen most frequently in Worf's and Picard's quarters.

Riker's quarters

"Lonely Among Us"

Guest quarters

"Too Short a Season"

B.G. Robinson's quarters

"The Outrageous Okona"

Worf's quarters

"Peak Performance"
"Redemption I"

Picard's quarters

"Suddenly Human"
"Legacy"
"Devil's Due"
"Qpid"

09

Rick Sternbach: "Saturn seen from Rhea - fun/con sale."

Guest quarters

"Justice"
"Suddenly Human"


There are two different sizes of this picture. In "Justice" and "Suddenly Human", each time in guest quarters, we can see a considerably bigger reproduction of the painting.
Starfleet Headquarters

"Conspiracy"

Data's quarters

"Allegiance"
"In Theory"

Picard's quarters

"Devil's Due"

10

Rick Sternbach: "The Mars-looking image was an actual photo of Mars, probably from the Viking missions."

Dr. Crusher's office

"11001001"
"Too Short a Season"
"Symbiosis"
"We'll Always Have Paris"


In the first season this picture was located in Dr. Crusher's office. Later on we could see it in several different places.

Diana Giddings' quarters

"The Outrageous Okona"

Guest quarters

"Loud as a Whisper"

Data's quarters

"Measure of a Man"

11

Rick Sternbach: "Mars and Deimos - fun/con sale."

Starbase on Relva VII

"Coming of Age"


This painting too comes in two different sizes. The bigger variant can be see in "Coming of Age" and in "Conspiracy". The smaller one appears in the remaining episodes. Furthermore, it is horizontal in "Coming of Age", "Conspiracy", "The Bonding" und "Booby Trap", whereas it is hanging upright in the two other episodes. 

On a side note, none of the paintings that were in the drafting room 5 in "Booby Trap" reappeared when the room was shown again in "Galaxy's Child".

Guest quarters

"Heart of Glory"
"Symbiosis"
"The Bonding"

Starfleet Headquarters

"Conspiracy"

Drafting room 5, Utopia Planitia

"Booby Trap"

12


Rick Sternbach: "Exoplanet and Moons - fun/con sale."

About the lower picture: "Repeat of #12 but with exoplanet painted over."

Starbase on Relva VII

"Coming of Age"


This is yet another painting of which there exist two different sizes. We can see the smaller size in "Family" and "Legacy" only. This smaller variant is missing the exoplanet in the background. It was painted over.
Starfleet Headquarters

"Conspiracy"

Corridor lounge

"Pen Pals"
"Peak Performance"
"The Offspring"

Guest quarters

"The Emissary"
"Reunion"

Crusher's quarters

"Transfigurations"

Worf's quarters

"Family"

Data's quarters

"Legacy"

13


Rick Sternbach: "We took an existing image of mine showing the destruction of the planet that was once thought to have created the asteroid belt, and I airbrushed a new planet on top. The 'ring' is actually supposed to be a sort of force field bubble. Just some oddness to attract the eye."

"Planet with shield bubble."

About the lower picture: "Repeat of #13 but without planet?"

Starbase on Relva VII

"Coming of Age"



This interesting picture can be see most notably in Riker's quarters. In "The Neutral Zone" it looks like there is a smaller variant, on which the planet with the shield bubble is missing. We can only recognize the explosion on this one. 

In "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Remember Me" we can see the painting with rounded corners. We can't tell whether the original reproduction was modified or rather a new print was produced.

Guest quarters

"Symbiosis"
"The Neutral Zone"
"Remember Me"

Riker's quarters

"Time Squared"
"The Icarus Factor"
"Up the Long Ladder"

Data's quarters

"The Best of Both Worlds I"

14

 

Rick Sternbach: "Another exoplanet from icy moon."

Starfleet Headquarters

"Conspiracy"


There are two sizes of this one too. The smaller one can be seen in "Booby Trap".

Drafting room 5, Utopia Planitia

"Booby Trap"

Guest quarters

"Sins of the Father"

15

Rick Sternbach: "Proto-planet, fun/con sale. Might have been used originally in TV GUIDE magazine publicizing the COSMOS mini-series."

This appears to be the issue 9/27/1980.

Starfleet Headquarters

"Conspiracy"


In "The Child" this picture with the characteristic planet appears upside down.

Crew quarters

"The Child"

Riker's quarters

"The Enemy"
"The Vengeance Factor"

16

Rick Sternbach: "Denkir IV from Inner Moon - Same fictional system I played with in #7." 1)

Observation lounge

"The Child" – "In Theory"



This painting could be seen in the observation lounge from the 2nd to the 4th season. It appeared on the starboard wall opposite to painting #07. Only in the first half of season 3, from "Evolution" to "The Defector", the locations of the two pictures were switched.

There is a larger variant of this painting too. We can see it is Marla Aster's quarters and in guest quarters. 

Marla Aster's quarters

"The Bonding"

 

Guest quarters

"The Price"

17

Rick Sternbach: "Surface of Ganymede - originally a book cover with Jupiter in the sky; I still have the painting here."

Observation lounge

"The Ensigns of Command"

This painting shows up only in a single episode.

18

Rick Sternbach: "Another F&SF cover I did for a Benford story 'The Anvil of Jove'." 

"Balloon-borne spacecraft in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Very Bob McCall type of sun flare. :)"

Anvil of Jove can be found in the July 1976 issue of the Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) Magazine.

Marla Aster's quarters

"The Bonding"

 

This quite interesting picture can be seen in Marla Aster's quarters and in Shelby's quarters.

Shelby's guest quarters

"The Best of Both Worlds I"

19

Rick Sternbach: "That pink-ish and blue-ish painting was a cover I did for Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) Magazine for a Greg Benford story. Something about a guy who goes diving within a giant amoeboid creature, if I recall."

It is the short story In Alien Flesh from the September 1978 issue of the magazine.

Marla Aster's quarters

"The Bonding"

This painting shows up only in a single episode.
19a The zylo eggs that Data paints in "11001001" are apparently based on the cover of In Alien Flesh as well.

Rick Sternbach: "Oh, I'm sure that the F&SF cover probably inspired me a bit. I don't recall exactly (eggs-actly?), but it sounds plausible. :)"

"I don't recall who had the specific idea for painting the eggs on clear plexiglas. I don't remember doing any kind of production sketch of the set-up (although I might have), so the idea have come from the producers or someone else in props or set decoration. I remember being given the plex and adding the eggs with some acrylic paints. Perhaps we were trying to be a bit too 'futuristic' by not going with a traditional stretched canvas, as with later Data paintings. Nothing wrong with going old school; after all, the Picard family still grew grapes and made wine pretty much the old-fashioned way, as far as we know."

Mike Okuda: "I re-created Rick's painting of zylo eggs from '11001001' for the same set ['Nemesis'], although I don't recall if either actually ended up on screen in that film."

We checked the movie, and the zylo eggs can't be seen in "Nemesis", neither in the theater version nor in the deleted scenes.

Observation lounge "11001001"
The zylo eggs only appear in "11001001".

20

"Heaven" by Dave Archer 2)

Dave Archer: "Circa: late 80's (won't tell you how it got it's name ... ha!)"

Drafting room 5, Utopia Planitia

"Booby Trap"


#20 is one of four paintings that Dave Archer contributed to TNG. At about the same time we can see his work in "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country" as well. Two of his images were purchased for the drafting room on Utopia Planitia.

We can see No. 19 in a large number of crew quarters. There is one variant with straight and one with rounded corners.

Riker's quarters

"The Vengeance Factor"
"Future Imperfect"
"Night Terrors"

Guest quarters

"The Defector"
"Sins of the Father"
"Tin Man"
"Sarek"
"Suddenly Human"
"Reunion"
"Data's Day"

Picard's quarters

"The Offspring"
"Family"

Captain's mess

"Sins of the Father"

Crusher's quarters

"Family"

O'Brien's quarters

"Data's Day"
"The Wounded"

Data's quarters

"Data's Day"
"Clues"

21

"Because It's There" by Dave Archer

Drafting room 5, Utopia Planitia

"Booby Trap"

This the second picture by Dave Archer. 

It exists in only one variant, with rounded corners.

Captain's mess

"Sins of the Father"

Guest quarters

"Tin Man"
"Remember Me"
"Data's Day"
"Qpid"

Troi's quarters

"The Loss"

Data's quarters

"Data's Day"
"In Theory"

22

Rick Sternbach: “In the Rings of Saturn - fun/con sale.”

Classroom / teacher's room

"The Offspring"
"Hero Worship"

This painting can be seen in the teacher's room.

23

Done by Dave Archer, late 80's

Ready room

"Future Imperfect"

In Riker's illusionary future ready room on the Enterprise-D we can see this painting for the first time, in the place of the one of the Enterprise-D (see #A below). After that the painting appears in Crusher's quarters and in the teacher's room.

Crusher's quarters

"The Host"

Classroom / teacher's room

"New Ground"

24

Dave Archer: "It is titled, '101' ... like the LA freeway ... an inside studio joke."

Classroom / teacher's room

"New Ground"

We can see this painting only on one occasion, in the teacher's room in "New Ground".

Note 1) "The origins of the Denkiri name came from a non-Trek SF story I was dabbling with as far back as 1971, inspired by Arthur Clarke's Second Dawn, at least by the descriptions of the intelligent, quasi-mammalian, three-legged creatures. I made mine four-legged. Humans arrive at Denkir IV on a scout ship preceding two big colony vessels by maybe eighteen months. Eight out of the nine scout crew die from a nasty virus that escaped detection after almost a full year of medical research, the ninth guy (engineer type) survives but doesn't know why. Long story short, he leaves the camp for a while, discovers the Denkiri, communicates with them, concludes after a couple of months that once the virus thing is solved, the colony command may not want to be friends. Typical clash of cultures, very Avatar-like, but *way* before Avatar. Very Dances with Wolves, very Pocahontas. :) The story synopsis could probably be reworked a lot to avoid recent similarities; it's one of those things chucked in a box somewhere in the garage. Anyhow, some bits of art were generated while the story ideas were coming together, and I was able to put them to use on TNG when John Dwyer (lead set decorator) asked if I had anything he could photographically enlarge for the walls during first season."

Note 2) Dave Archer on painting with high voltage: "The coils I use for painting in various 'reverse glass' techniques, are designed and fabricated by engineering genius, Bill Wysock, at his company: 'Tesla Technology,' in Monrovia, California. [...] Bill Wysock's list of Tesla accomplishments is a long roll of movie credits. His coils have been used for special effects in many films, commercials, massive outdoor shows, and worldwide installations."

"Having used my Bill Wysock, Tesla painting machine for decades, I stake my claim as the first in the world on that score. And I think Tesla would have enjoyed the paintings I make using his invention. How lucky I feel then, that my machines are built and maintained by one of Tesla's true successors."

"I paint with two different Wysock coils in my studio. The large one produces nine foot arcs from the tip of an insulated rod hanging over the glass, which is raised from the floor by heavy duty insulators. [...] The rod is six feet long, and since the arcs can be as long as nine feet, for safety, I hold a ground wire in my hands, gripping it to the handle of the rod. Paints are slurried on the glass, then hit with arcs, which can be flashed on by the use of a foot switch, or by an assistant standing some distance away. I prefer an assistant because it is hard locate the foot switch in the dark wearing giant rubber boots, and even harder to 'feel' the right angle, and pressure, to set off a fine, safe, burst of working arcs.

Using the other of Bill's coils, my actual body becomes the path to ground. With a metal rod held tightly in my hands, I reach out toward the wet paint on the glass. The glass lies flat atop the coil, while the high voltage arcs are attracted through the paint to my body. 'Skin effect' plays a major role with this machine. High frequency electricity flows invisibly over the skin to the floor, thus to ground, while I remain relatively safe. That is, standing on an insulated platform, or wearing insulated boots. I do feel the power in my arms, shoulders and neck. After years of working with high voltage in this way, I required months of weekly massage sessions called 'trigger point' therapy to release cramped muscles. The painting boots I like best are massive rubber boots normally used in Antarctica to keep feet from freezing into bricks, with cube-trays for toes."

Read the whole story.

Definite pictures The following pictures, depicting definite vessels or structures in space, shouldn't remain unmentioned. Their locations on the ship were usually fixed.

#

Picture

Background information

Location

Episodes

Remarks

A

Rick Sternbach: "The ready room piece was half mine with Andy Probert."

Ready room

"Encounter at Farpoint" 
– "All Good Things" 

This picture is located in the captain's ready room for the whole run of the series. The only exceptions are the illusionary Enterprise-D in "Future Imperfect" (see #23 above) and the parallel universe in "Yesterday's Enterprise".
B

Rick Sternbach: "The Sickbay organs was all Andy [Probert]."

Andrew Probert: "I whipped up this painting as a way to add color to the Sickbay outer office area. It represents the human body & mind starting with the (white) brain and looking right along the lungs, heart, liver, etc... The left side of the brain represents the hopes & dreams of Mankind... creating starships to explore the Universe.

The painting was rushed onto the set just before the cameras rolled for the first time in that set and I discovered much later that some of the left side ended up being scuffed quite a bit but I had no time to go back & touch it up."

Sickbay, waiting area in front of Crusher's office "Encounter at Farpoint"
– "All Good Things"

This picture shows various organs of the human body, along with the first Enterprise, the refit and the Enterprise-D.

As can be seen when comparing the painting in the pilot (above) to how it looked later (below), several details are missing, including the two Enterprises and the planets.

C

Rick Sternbach: "The starbase in Picard's quarters was mine." 3)

Picard's quarters

"The Battle"
– "All Good Things"

Picard's quarters was first seen in "Justice", but still without many of the familiar set pieces. These showed up for the first time in "The Battle", including the painting of the starbase. 
D Mike Okuda: "I did the digitally-retouched photo of the Vor'cha ship in 'Parallels.' I think I took the photo on which it's based. I retouched it quite a bit to try to suggest brush strokes and to try to make it seem painterly, but seeing it again, I clearly could have done more." Worf's quarters "Parallels"
The Vor'cha appears only briefly in one of the alternate timelines in "Parallels" (but the change is a part of the story).

Note 3) "When we created Picard's quarters on Stage 8, using the general high-class quarters set opposite Ten-Forward, there was again a blank spot on a wall behind his desk, so I was asked to create a painting to fill in the area. I suggested a space station over a planet, and the significance could be that it was a station Picard served on early in his career. I did the art in a style slightly reminiscent of Bob McCall's, one of my favorite space artists. Exactly where was the station? Not a clue. Could be a predecessor of Jupiter Station, since the basic form is the same (saucer, vertical core, etc.). Could be a different star system. I really don't think I considered the specifics when I painted it. I do know it took me about sixteen hours to paint over a couple of days."

 

Addendum

Rick Sternbach on how his artwork found its way into the show: "Most of the stuff I contributed was for the early seasons, and set decorator John Dwyer was a really good guy to agree to let me help."

After the first season Jim Mees took over the position as a set decorator. In "The Outrageous Okona" we can see a new form of wall decoration for the first time, the already mentioned pastel-colored abstract pictures that would completely replace the space art since the fifth season. We can see the same artwork in Voyager too.


Decoration in  "Cause and Effect"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Decoration in "Journey's End"

(screen capture by Jörg)

In the DVD special features of the sixth TNG season Jim Mees tells us about the rationale for the change: "The artwork in the first year of the show was primarily photographic stars or pictures of rocket ships and things like that. My sensibility was that the last thing you need to see on the wall as a piece of art when you're in outer space anyway and you've got these beautiful windows that open up to the real stars why would you want a photograph of a star or a galaxy or the Milky Way? So what I did was start to redevelop that look and made it more "art pieces", pieces that had color and used a different kind of sense of form."

 

More about Set Decoration

Re-Used Props - Furniture - tables, chairs, lamps, other furniture

Re-Used Props - Decoration - decorative windows, wall art, sculptures

 

Credits

Thanks to Lee Sherman for additional scans of #15 (COSMOS), #A and #B (The Continuing Mission).

 


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