Eren Unten illustrated the Little Golden Book Star Wars: I Am a Hero.
What is your first Star Wars memory and who are some of your favorite Star Wars characters.
My first Star Wars memory is watching The Empire Strikes Back when I was very young. The last shot of the movie where Luke and Leia are on the rebel ship looking out into space is the image that I remember most from my first viewing of the film. I honestly have many favorite Star Wars characters, but my top ones are Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rey, Poe Dameron, and Admiral Ackbar!
Can you share how you became an artist and some of your favorite projects over the years?
I studied animation at California State University Fullerton and decided to apply what I learned from animation to become a children’s book illustrator. I worked on my portfolio after graduating, and after posting my work online I started working as a freelance illustrator. A few years into freelancing, an art director from Penguin Books reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in illustrating a children’s book. I’ve been illustrating them ever since. Before illustrating books, I worked on various projects such as character design for animation, toy design, but working on children’s books has been my absolute favorite!
How did you become the illustrator for the Little Golden Book Star Wars: I am a Hero?
A few years ago, I started drawing Star Wars fan art and posted it on social media. An art director from Random House saw my work and reached out to me, asking if I would be interested in illustrating a Star Wars Little Golden Book. I was completely overjoyed when I got that email! I’d already illustrated quite a few golden books at that point, so Random House was familiar with my work. Being able to officially illustrate Star Wars characters had been a dream of mine, something that I didn’t know would be possible, and it came true!
There are so many characters in this book. Were you given much freedom about which characters would appear on each page and what the characters would be doing in each scene?
I love that I got to illustrate so many characters from all the different films! As the illustrator, I’m responsible for the imagery, and the editor and writer are responsible for the writing and which characters will appear. I’m given the layout of the pages, what the text on each page will be, and notes on what the art should be on each page. I also want to mention, I think the story of I Am a Hero written by Christopher Nicholas is so brilliant. It’s not just a Star Wars story, but a story about what it is to be a hero and how we can all be heroes.
What were some of your favorite illustrations from this book?
I loved illustrating the iconic moment of Princess Leia recording her message with R2D2. I was working on that illustration when Carrie Fisher passed away, which made it even more emotional for me. The first spread of the book where Rey is about to fight Kylo Ren was also a favorite. Luke looking at the setting suns on Tatooine, Chewbacca with the Ewoks, and Han Solo on a tauntaun were also really fun to draw.
Were any of the characters harder for you to get right than others?
For the cover, I had to revise my drawings of Rey a few times. I also had to revise Luke’s side profile for the Tatooine page. It’s a little challenging sometimes to capture how an actor looks and simplify it into a drawing, but it’s still so much fun to work on.
Do you have any other Star Wars related work you can share (official or unofficial)?
I’ve done a few unofficial Star Wars art that’s just for fun. I hope to do official work again in the future!
Below are a few examples of Eren’s Star Wars fan art.
Are there any Star Wars characters you haven’t illustrated yet that you’d love to have the chance to work on?
I’d love to work on the Mandalorian and the Child! I’ve drawn some “Baby Yoda” fan art, and it’s been so much fun. I’d also like to work on Rose Tico, Boba Fett, and Greedo!
What Star Wars projects are you excited for that are coming up in the next few years?
I’m really looking forward to all the new Star Wars Disney+ shows that were announced! The continuation of The Mandalorian, the untitled Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and the Rogue One prequel series.
Can you share any projects you have coming up?
I can’t say exactly what I’m currently working on, but I can say it’s related to children’s books!
You can find more of Eren’s work on her website.