Local artist Greg Lipton was hired last summer by the amazing Acme Archives, home base for all Disney, Lucasfilm, Fox, Halo, Marvel – and more – animation and artwork, to produce officially licensed artwork for the biggest names in film animation. This month he will be participating in the ‘Star Wars’ weekends at Disney Hollywood Studios at Disney World and in July at the massive Comic Con International in San Diego.
Acme Archives, the peak producers of artwork, limited editions, fine art, lithographs and more, for everything from “The Simpsons” to “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” to “Indiana Jones” and Marvel comics characters, “Halo” warriors and so much more, now features the “Merciless” and “Relentless” giclees from “Star Wars” by Greg Lipton.
Lipton, 38, who describes himself on the site as a Caymanian/Canadian self-taught artist with a love for Sci-Fi and Fantasy, has displayed his artwork at the National Museum and National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, among other places.
“Through my art, I aim to convey the excitement and raw emotion found in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre,” his notes on the site say.
How it all started
It was seven years ago when he first picked up a paintbrush – out of necessity – and painted a “Star Wars” character.
“I had seen a very simple ‘Star Wars’ painting on eBay, knowing that my wife wouldn’t let me purchase it,” he says. So he went to the store and bought some canvas and paint and “painted something similar.”
He continued painting and exhibited at a number of shows at Full of Beans cafe, which led to shows with the National Gallery and a solo show at the former local gallery, Arteccentrix.
“I was then approached by New York filmmaker Brian Gonzales [aka “Taxiplasm” on Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter] to participate in a group show in collaboration with Sean Lennon [son of the Beatles’ John Lennon] which took place at The Box in New York City,” he says. “After that, I took an entire year to work on paintings for a Lucasfilm portfolio review.”
Lipton, who was born in Ontario, Canada, first came to Cayman in
1983. He spent summers with his grandparents in Pease Bay, “catching lizards and crabs, running up and down on the beach with the neighborhood dogs, fishing and snorkeling.
He has lived in Cayman since 1997.
“I have lots of family in Cayman, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and my grandma in the Brac, Barbara Malone nee Watler. She’s 83 years and strong as ever, she brought me everywhere. She traveled when I was a kid and is a second mother to me.”
Lipton says he has always viewed each piece of art he produces as experimental, trying out different techniques, genres, styles and so on. He paints mostly in acrylics but has exhibited installations, assemblage art, digital art, sculptures and some video art.
“I’ve never let myself get comfortable when producing art, but instead force myself to see what I can do next, how can I become better, where can it go from here and continually strive for that next level with each painting,” he says. “The art that I’m producing for Acme is an extension of that same idea that I’ll continually push myself to improve on.”
Lipton says he has always been a big fan of Acme Archives and their products, having seen their work at Disney World, FAO Schwarz in New York City and in many online galleries. He says he managed to meet a few of the Acme artists who showcased their work at a “Star Wars Celebration” in Orlando and showed them his portfolio.
“I received some great feedback, especially from an artist by the name of Jerry Vanderstelt,” he says. “He is a huge inspiration of mine, and I was extremely grateful that he spent a considerable amount of time with me at the event even though he had a massive line of people behind me waiting to buy prints and get his signature.”
Shortly after that event, another “Star Wars” artist Lipton had met recommended him to a company in New York – none other than Topps trading cards, which offered him a contract to produce artwork for one of their “Star Wars” trading card sets.
“As I was working on the Topps cards, one of my ‘Star Wars’ paintings was inducted into the world’s largest privately owned Star Wars collection owned by Steve Sansweet of Rancho Obi-Wan and Lucasfilm [Rancho Obi-Wan is a nonprofit museum that houses the world’s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia}.
“I sent Acme an email with that information and a picture of the painting that is now at Rancho Obi-Wan. Two weeks later, Acme offered me a contract with their fine art department,” he says.
He makes it sound so easy, but Lipton is one of only 70 artists worldwide who have contracts with Acme to produce works for the company’s fine arts program.
Acme Archives is the official licensee for Fox, Lucasfilm, Disney, Dreamworks, Saban, and Marvel, among others.
Lipton works from a small home studio, with all his “Star Wars” inspiration at his fingertips.
In the run-up to the “Star Wars” weekend at Disney Hollywood Studios at Disney World this month, Lipton was invited to a special, pre-event, “Rebel Rendezvous,” featuring the upcoming Disney XD animated series “Star Wars Rebels.” For the rest of the weekend, he will be setting up at the Animation Gallery for a print signing and painting demonstrations. Lipton says he imagines the schedule will be similar for the vast Comic Con International show in July.
Living the dream
To say it’s a dream come true for Lipton might be a bit of an understatement.
“Besides being a big ‘Star Wars’ fan and getting to live out this amazing dream, I think this opportunity is very important to me as an artist,” he says. “I’ll be getting lots of exposure that would be great for any artist. The San Diego Comic Con attendance is over 130,000 people, and Disney will also be incredibly busy.”
At the moment, Lipton says he has two prints released with Acme, another that will be debuting at Disney’s “Star Wars” weekends and five more for which he has received the go-ahead from Lucasfilm to start working on. He also has a group show at the National Gallery opening this for an exhibition on the Spanish artist Goya, and he’s busy putting together a portfolio for conceptual artwork for the film industry.
“And a few more side projects that keep me busy,” he says. “I would love to do another local solo show at some point.”
And best of all …
Lipton says one of the best things about his contract with Acme is that George Lucas himself views each of his “Star Wars” paintings.
“My contract states that he has the first right of refusal.
“I love that he gets to pick first if he wants to buy the original painting. Just the fact of knowing that he sees my art is amazing to me. I’m very grateful to Acme Archives for giving me this wonderful amazing opportunity to showcase my art to a global market.”
To see Greg Lipton’s works for Acme, go to http://www.acmearchivesdirect.com/search.jhtm.