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Sternbach, Rick

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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Working name of American artist Richard Michael Sternbach (1951-    ), born in Connecticut. He left the University of Connecticut after three years to begin working as an artist and garnered his first sf assignment in 1973, for the October 1973 issue of Analog, illustrating G Harry Stine's article "A Program for Space Flight" with interior art and a cover depicting two spherical spacecraft near an enormous planet. Subsequent covers for Analog, Galaxy, If, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction suggested two things: that he was very good at painting astronomical scenes and spacecraft, and very poor at painting human figures. In 1975, he began producing book covers with a series of covers for republished books by Larry Niven, all examples of space art; his cover for The World of Ptavvs (1966) included one interesting novelty, a pair of spacesuited dolphins. He continued painting magazine and book covers throughout the 1970s, and as a sign of his rapid rise to prominence in the field, he won the Hugo as Best Professional Artist in 1977 and 1978. While recognized as an acknowledged master of the airbrush, he also used ordinary brushes extremely well, particularly with gouache, to produce evocative space art that displayed a strong sense of design.

Soon, Sternbach's talents were being recognized outside the field, as he began doing artwork for science magazines and for Carl Sagan's television series Cosmos (1980). What proved to be his most important assignments, however, were some uncredited illustrations for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and artwork for Fred and Stan Goldstein's Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology (1980 – Sternbach is regularly credited as its co-author, but was in fact only its illustrator), since the connections he established later led to an invitation to work for Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). After it began airing in 1987, Sternbach abandoned sf covers to devote his full energies to that series, its successors Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) and Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), and the films Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), and Solaris (2002). He also published a series of books that both described and displayed his noteworthy creations, mostly Spaceships, for the Star Trek franchise. Presumably he is still keeping busy today, inasmuch as he has not had the time to update his website since 2006. [JG/GW]

Richard Michael Sternbach

born Bridgeport, Connecticut: 6 July 1951


graphic works


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