If you’re a cat lover and a fan of the countless Star Trek references made by character, Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) in The Big Bang Theory, you’ll adore the works of scientific illustrator, Jenny Parks. The artist's specialty is drawing cats reminiscent of fictional pop culture characters, and she spent half a year creating the "Star Trekitties" illustration (above).
The extraterrestrial inspiration stemmed from her mother’s obsession with Star Trek: The Next Generation. "Most of my memories of the show are from an old computer screen saver my parents had. I thought to begin illustrating the original series first—it's a staple of a science fiction!" Parks tells InStyle.com.
The artist's interest in illustration started in her early childhood and carried on to high school where her art teacher encouraged her to pursue the field as a career. She realized her undeniable passion to draw animals in college and her kitty-inspired artwork evolved while doing a one-year intensive Scientific Illustration program at UC Santa Cruz. It wasn’t until three years ago that Parks drew Doctor Who characters as cats for fun and started gaining recognition for her artwork after selling prints at her brother’s booth during San Diego Comic-Con.
Parks' pieces are mostly done through computer software. First, she gathers reference material, which are typically the images of the animal and character she aims to portray. Then a rough sketch is done on a Wacom Contiq (digital tablet illustrator) connected with Photoshop. Parks then transforms the sketch into a print out on card stock, allowing her to work effectively by hand and ultimately resulting in a cleaner sketch. After scanning back into Photoshop, the coloring process begins! She focuses on filling in texture, shadows, and highlights. “The hardest part of the illustration process is usually making human clothes work on a cat—they have a different anatomy,” Parks says.
Look for Jenny Parks at next week's San Diego Comic-Con (July 24 to 27) at Booth #708, where you can shop her cat-inspired merchandise including "Star Trekitties" prints, postcards, buttons and magnets ($1-$15). The collection and custom artwork (starting at $100) are also available on jennyparks.com.