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Monday, April 24, 2006

Skywalker Ranch

People keep asking me what its like to visit the Ranch so I decided perhaps a sketchbook on the LucasFilm Mecca might be in order.

Ironically I have just returned home after spending a fantastic number of days at the Skywalker Ranch as Production Maestro Rick McCallums guest. I floated the idea of the book with him and also to the guys at the marvelous new campus at the Presidio to a very warm reception. By the way, the Letterman Arts Centre is beautiful and its damn fantastic to see the tons of original artwork hanging from every wall (Drew Struzan, Matt Busch et al).

These are some of the concepts I had for the book. A thick leather-bound volume. Now it remains to be seen if they still think the gig is a good idea!! Even if they don't I will do it anyway....


Blogger Amos Sidelnik said...

Have I ever told you how amazing your work was.
The Ranch looks just great,
that book is mine when it comes out
So what is your secret
what is the best way to get into the Ranch
is there a secret back door?

and good luck with the book

Blogger Cat Staggs said...

I will take a copy...that is just sweet.

Blogger Checkmark said...

Wow, that's a cool idea. Good job on the artwork for it as well. I'm glad to see that people are begginning to post again.

Blogger Mark Raats said...

Thanks a ton everyone!!

Amos, don't know where the secret door is I'm afraid - I just use the front gate. I guess luck has a lot to do with it. I am very fortunate to have Rick McCallum's open invitation, so whenever I am in town (which is not often enough) I go there.

There was a bit of doubt (at the Presidio) as to the book's potential sales but going by your comments at least there might be a few sales here!!

I will let you know if anything comes of it!

Blogger Amos Sidelnik said...

Are you kidding, those Presidio people whoever they are
I heard Reagan or Nixon or some President wanted to eneter the Ranch and he was not permited
everybody wants to know what is up there especially if it in great art

Blogger Mark Raats said...

Dunno about the President not being able to go into the ranch, but there IS fantastic art in the place.

The Presidio is a different place altogether. It is the huge new complex George built at the old Navy base at the Presidio in San Francisco and that now houses the entire LucasFilm business side of the company (ILM included). Lucas designed the interiors himself and it is a testament to his fantastic taste. There is original art all over the walls (some of our friends on this forum are featured there as well - which was brilliant to see).

Looking at the complex company structure very simply, the only parts of the LucasFilm empire not represented at the new complex are the ILM model shop (because they can't blow up tings in the middle of San Fran - so they are still in San Rafael) and the new LucasFilm animation facility which is split between the BigRock (near Skywalker ranch) Singapore and The Ranch itself. Then there is the creative side (which you might have seen on the DVD's) which is also based at SkyWalker Ranch.

At the Ranch, Lucas has a huge and diverse selection of original artwork from French Art Nouveau Maestro - Alphonse Muncha to American great, Norman Rockwell hanging on the walls. So the Presidio has the film stuff and the Ranch has Lucas' own personal (non film related) artwork collection.

Where ever you go there is just the most fabulous stuff to look at - and I have not even got onto the architectural aspect of any of his facilities.....

Blogger Amos Sidelnik said...

thanks, it is all good to know
God do I love people who appreciate good art,
So I bet you he is not much interested in more art, (what do you think catches his eye?)
So I said your work was amazing but I never told you how jealous I am
I do not know if you could give this kind of info,---
Does Mr. Lucas live in the Ranch?
or is that where he works or other people's working place (palace) or his museum?
sorry if I write too much, this subject is quite exciting
thanks again

Blogger Mark Raats said...

No Amos he does not live there - actually he lives in a really 'normal' neighborhood, in a very, very nice house he has had re-modfied to look as it did earlier - in its history - more than that I should not say....

He is apparently always looking out for new art. Generally he has first option to purchase any LucasFilm commissioned art from the artist commissioned to do the work (but it is not a guarantee that he WILL purchase it).

His collection at the Ranch is really very specific and is for the most part, the most highly recognised (and expensive) artists through history made up of mostly literal artists and illustrators as opposed to abstract masters.

He does work at the Ranch when he needs to. Generally people do not stay there all the time (there are a few exceptions I can't name), and then there are lucky guests like myself and others, for example musicians and filmmakers who might be using the facilities (like Skywalker Sound) who stay at the guest complex. The Ranch is really a production hub with everything being co-ordinated by through the Main House.

Obviously lots of people do work there each and every day, from the guys doing the movie visualisations, to the audio engineers, archivists, garden specialists, wine masters (yes Lucas grows his own grapes for a very exclusive range of wines) and the SkyWalker Ranch Firefighters... so in essence an entire community both film related and general contractors.

Hope this is of some interest. I cannot post any photographs but if you need any more info email me and I will try and see if there is anything else that you might find interesting.

Blogger Amos Sidelnik said...

Are you going to be in Comic Con this year?
Did I read somewhere you live in Austrelia? quite far away from California

but if you do, it would certainly be more worth it to go (coming down from chile)

Blogger Mark Raats said...

Hi Amos --

No... I have only just returned to Australia from The USA so no plans to return for any of the cons. Unfortunately as you might recall, this drawing stuff is not my 'real job' so I need to concentrate on running my company for a while....

Blogger Amos Sidelnik said...

in that case, I shall slow the pace of my writing
good luck with your company
and one last question
How do you become an official star wars artist if you are not a full time artist and does not work for any of the companies?

Blogger Mark Raats said...

No Problem Amos.... Got to know some of the guys at ILM (I am involved in the animation industry) a very, very long time ago, I did not draw (or paint) for about 15 years, and then a few things happened and I ended up doing some traditional drawings for them. The work I have done for various parts of the Lucas business has grown out of there - not in the traditional way that most of the Allied Artists work, but mostly on a more personal level. My "real job" is in animation and multimedia and I did my first computer animated short film in about 1986. As you know, all the work we do is computer based these days and that is why I enjoy doing the 'traditional' work so much - it takes me away from the buzzing monitors and CPU's. Pencils and paint its just brilliant!


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