The story behind the new NASA space travel posters

    (Courtesy of Invisible Creature)

    (Courtesy of Invisible Creature)

    For one designer, creating these posters was like ‘coming full circle’ for his family. 

    NASA has been quite the pop culture darling over this past year. The agency was featured prominently in “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon, and there were those pictures of Pluto before that. Then, in this past week, the internet was buzzing about some really cool looking space posters, put out by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    For Don Clark of Seattle­ based graphic design firm Invisible Creature, securing a job designing three of these posters was an experience he describes as “coming full circle”.

    An old friend from his days as a musician contacted him with some work. The friend had landed a job at California­ based JPL, where he was helping run a fun, art­ inspired program to assemble a calendar with space­travel themed graphic art for each month, and he wanted Clark to participate.

    Clark agreed, and JPL assigned him posters of Mars, The Grand Tour (the Voyager Mission), and Encelatus (the Casini Mission for Saturn).

    He describes the posters as “fun, whimsical takes on space travel.” He explains that NASA gave them themes, planets, and concepts, and they worked from there. 

    “We wanted that nostalgic travel poster charm, but almost in a way where we’re looking 500 years into the future,” he says.

    NASA gave them a lot of creative control, but there was one hard-and-fast rule—they wanted the posters to be rooted in the science of what could potentially be done in the future. 

    The posters are available for free on NASA’s website, but the limited edition prints by Clark’s company are almost sold out. When asked if he expected the posters to take off the way they did, he said with a laugh, “Absolutely not…we had no idea. We were not prepared for this at all.” 

    But getting the job was more meaningful for Clark, not necessarily because of the attention, but instead because his grandfather had worked at NASA as an illustrator for 30 years. He had worked on the very first illustration to go into space, called the Pioneer Plaque

    “It was really cool to get this project, and have this thing come full circle for our family.” 

    Listen to the full interview above. 

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