When I saw Roberto Venegas’s illustration “We are the Spark” I had to know more. You could spend hours looking through this illustration trying to identify different Star Wars characters. I asked Roberto how this image came to be and he was kind enough to also provide a detailed caption for the illustration identifying each character.
What was your introduction to Star Wars?
I had two entries to Star Wars. When I was a kid, around five years old with the original Star Wars film. I remember seeing Lord Vader choking Motti, and thought – what was that? That was when I fell in love with Star Wars but that love was short-lived. I didn’t know anything outside the movies and I knew no one that liked Star Wars. Unfortunately, anything you don’t nourish, it dies.
The prequels came and went. Then The Force Awakens was released. Coming out of the theater, the movie felt like a rollercoaster. I loved it. Rogue One continued that trend of appreciating Star Wars. Then The Last Jedi hit theaters. That was a life-changer. Before that, I was a Marvel guy, after TLJ, I couldn’t think of anything else beyond Star Wars. It connected with me in a mental and emotional level.
It was a frustrating time because during the sequel trilogy I was attending college at, Art Center College of Design. I had no time for anything but TLJ was pulling me in wanting to know more about this universe and the previous trilogies. So I started listening to Star Wars channels on Youtube and eventually discovered podcasts while I worked on school projects. That got me through my last few terms of school.
What was the inspiration for this image?
The inspiration came from The Mandalorian. I was thinking of doing an ensemble piece of bounty hunters and scoundrels with Boba Fett, Jango Fett, and the Mandalorian being the centerpiece of the illustration. I knew I could make it look cool, fun and action-packed but something was missing.
What story am I telling? What am I saying, beyond this is cool? Later, a thought came to me about doing a piece with Rey, Leia, Padmé, Shmi, Beru and Breha all in the same place. What would they say to each other? How would they react to each other? If everything took place and the Force allowed them to see each other for one day. One can only imagine the thoughts, feelings, hopes, disappointment, and gratitude they would share.
Padmé seeing her daughter for the first time. Shmi feeling so disappointed over Anakin but at the same time seeing her granddaughter be a center figure of change for the positive. Breha and Beru, who took in Luke and Leia giving them a love and a home knowing full well the danger they were in. I can’t imagine all those sleepless nights fearing, one day a pounding on the front door will come.
That was the story, the emotional pull that I was looking for. The idea to celebrate all female characters, no matter how small their roles in a film, show, or book. It was important to me to show all sides from the main characters of the story, to the leaders who make the hard decision and have to burden the results. To those that do the fight, the dirty work, and risk their lives every time they step out. It was important to show them in the front as well and not only draw people’s favorite characters. This was to be a celebration of unity and recognition.
How did you decide which characters to include?
I mainly wanted to keep it canon with characters that are good or morally ambiguous that sided more towards the good. I also kept it with characters that were depicted. I wanted everyone to be recognizable to the fans that love those characters. As much as I wanted to include Phasma and others, I had to limit myself otherwise I will never finish I know my knowledge of Star Wars is very limited, so I put a call out for obscure characters and Star Wars twitter came to the rescue.
I was overwhelmed by how many names came in. I thought it was too much so I kept limiting myself to 50 characters then 60, then 75… 90… 100, and finally to 111 characters and for the print I increased it to 125. It just didn’t sit well with me to leave characters out, since this piece is meant to celebrate them. It was important to show that they were all equal in this fight. No matter how big or small their roles are, whether they are well known or not, everyone matters.
Which characters were the most fun or challenging to draw?
The most fun characters are usually the most challenging because it’s like a riddle that needs to be solved. You have to put yourself in their shoes, and think what are they going through at that moment. The Skywalker family was fun—so were the Tico sisters but the one that caused the most trouble for me was Jyn and Lyra Erso. It was challenging for me to depict such a complicated reunion.
My thoughts were, “Lyra must be a bag of emotions to see her daughter all grown up”, and to know she gave her life to destroy what Lyra helped create. There are feelings of guilt, sadness, joy, pride, and many other emotions, she must be feeling in this moment. How do I express that? After trying out so many poses, I went simple, a hug. Out of all the characters Lyra is the only one in this moment. She is holding Jyn’s head close to her. Like a parent would do holding their baby. Lyra wants to feel her skin, her warmth, take in her scent, to feel her heartbeat, she wants to hold her baby close to her. At the same time, I wanted Jyn to see that her act of bravery changed the course of the war. Her actions are arguably the most important act in Star Wars. I need the viewer to know how important her life was.
I had to step away from working so many times just to gather myself. It’s one of my favorite moments. I had fun adding little things and moments. There is an area where I have Paige pulling Rose’s hair and making it into a curl, like the ones she had in TLJ. Qi’ra dangling Han’s dice on her finger to troll Leia a bit. Mon Mothma giving Holdo the Yavin Medal of Bravery is also another one of my favorites. R2-KT was a touching to illustrate, just to name a few.
How long did it take to finish this illustration?
It’s embarrassing, how much time I’ve spent working on this. It took me a long time, not sure how much. This was a project that kept growing and expanding and I am trying to make it all fit and work. Every time I changed something it would cause a chain reaction adding more time I needed to work on it. All I can say is it took me a month.
Who are your favorite Star Wars characters?
My three favorite characters are Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren is my favorite. His character arc has been a challenging one. People can’t seem to make their minds up about him and what he deserves towards the end. That’s what I love about him. At times you root for him and at times he disappoints you but you still stick with him because you believe there is good in him.
Rey I love, because of her internal struggle. She is a compass without direction. Being pulled in so many different directions but what she truly wants seem unreachable. It’s a journey of self-discovery.
Luke’s character came together for me with The Last Jedi. It did so much for me in appreciating his character. Life will change you and challenge you and at times you might lose yourself in the mess of it all, but you can still find a way to get back to who you are. While working on the illustration, I came to love characters like Norra Wexley, Shara Bey, Ventress, Rae Sloane, and Zay. These are amazing characters that I would’ve never known about if I hadn’t done this. For me, this was an eye-opener to a bigger universe. It made me curious to find out more about each character and I hope that it does the same for other fans.
Here’s a closer look at the characters in “We are the Spark” (I linked to 365 Star Wars Women posts I have done so far for characters mentioned in these captions).
Front row left to right: Pammich Nerro Goode (yellow suit), Jessika Pava (orange suit), Jaldine Gerams (blue suit, wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Zal Dinnes (orange suit, wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Laren Jome (dark blue suit, wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Norra Wexley (gray suit, holding Temmin “Snap” Wexley hologram), Shara Bey (green suit, holding Poe Dameron hologram), Paige Tico (yellow suit, wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Rose Tico, Torra Doza (teal and orange suit), Buggles (Torra’s pet voorpak), Rodma Maddel (wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Walea Timker (wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery).
Back row left to right: Tallissan “Tallie” Lintra (dark green suit), Evaan Verlaine (orange suit), Karé Kun (orange suit), Greer Sonnel (purple suit), Chass Na Chadic (orange suit), Yrica Quell (orange suit).
Front row left to right: R2-KT (pink droid, two hearts representing father and daughter), L3-37, Breha Organa, Sola Naberrie, Padmé Amidala, Rey, Leia Organa, Space Gary (Carrie’s French bulldog), Shmi Skywalker Lars, Beru Whitesun Lars, CB-23 (ball droid), QT-KT (pink atromech), Lyra Erso, Jyn Erso (wearing Medal of Yavin Medal of Bravery).
Front row left to right: Hollé (handmaiden), Miré (handmaiden), Bo-Katan Kryze, Satine Kryze, Mon Mothma, Amilyn Holdo (wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Larma D’Acy, Kaydel Ko Connix, Ellé (handmaiden), Moteé (handmaiden), Toryn Farr, Harter Kalonia, Korr Sella, Teckla Minnau (handmaiden), Rabé (handmaiden), Eirtaé (handmaiden), Umé (handmaiden), Kneesaa (Ewok in front).
Back row left to right: Fé (handmaiden), Karté (handmaiden), Mina Bonteri, Sheltay Retrac, Queen Julia (Gungan), Riyo Chuchi, Queen Neeyutnee, Queen Sosha Sonuna, Queen Jamillia, Queen Apailana, Dormé (handmaiden), Cordé (handmaiden), Sabé (handmaiden), Yané (handmaiden), Saché (handmaiden), Versé (handmaiden).
Left to right: Aurodia Ventafoli, Lyn Me, Greeata Jendowanian, Rystáll Sant, Oola, Synara San, Peppi Bow, Sana Starros, Tamara Ryvora, Iden Versio (wearing Medal of Yavin of Bravery), Zay Versio, Steela Gerrera, Kalifa (sitting), Ketsu Onyo, Jannah, Ahsoka Tano, Morai (Convor), Daughter of Mortis, Sabine Wren (sitting), Ursa Wren, Hera Syndulla (holding Jacen Syndulla).
Here are some of Roberto’s other Star Wars illustrations.
Inspired by “a thousand generations live in you now”, I thought it would be cool to see past Jedi support Rey in her upcoming fight in The Rise of Skywalker.
This was my first attempt at drawing Rey or Ben. I had so much fun, that it’s the reason I continued to do Star Wars fan art.
Once Dark Rey was revealed I had to draw her. I wanted to have this romantic but dark feel to it. I want to tempt viewers to join the dark side.
This was the first piece of Star Wars fan art I’ve ever done. Loved the film, and I hope there will be more.
I love French bulldogs and I thought it would be great to see Gary in Poe’s rebel pilot suit with BB-8. It was my way of saying thank you to Carrie Fisher.