Starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds…
— David Bowie: Starman
This digital painting of David Bowie “The Starman” was inspired by his Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust characters. The songs from his album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, were my biggest inspiration for the concept of this illustration. The most influential song for this concept was of course “Starman”. I also loved the iconic imagery from Bowie’s Aladdin Sane character, who was in a way a progression and evolution of his Ziggy Stardust character. Bowie himself said “In my mind, it was Ziggy Goes to Washington: Ziggy under the influence of America.” (source: Rolling Stone) Aladdin Sane was David Bowie’s first album after he was launched into stardom by his Ziggy Stardust persona and works, these two looks changed and revolutionized the industry and fashion as we know it. Bowie “The Starman” came to meet us and blew our minds.
I played off all of this as inspiration for this illustration. The iconic lightning bolt from Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust’s evolution, and Bowie’s position as a star now. The stars in the lightning bolt are a reference to Ziggy Stardust, especially the cluster in the middle of his forehead, which is a wink back to the moon Ziggy wore on his forehead. The background is a reference to the celestial nature of Starman, and his message of hope to our planet’s youth. There is also the reference to a space invader from “Moonage Day Dream”. The lighting also speaks to his message of hope and celestial nature. The lightning bolt which is no longer just mere makeup on his face, but expanding out on either side can be seen as Bowie’s rise to fame, his and our minds expanding, and as a reference to blowing our minds. If you zoom in and look closely at Bowie’s left eye in this illustration, you will see space, stars, and parts of a galaxy in the pupil. Perhaps referencing The Starman’s view into something bigger and more vast than we understand.
This illustration though it may look like it could have been painted with acrylic or oil is actually a digital painting. I painted it by hand in photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq. Before I began the digital painting, I did research on David Bowie, his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane personas, and of course the albums and songs that influenced this piece. I worked from dozens of reference photos to make sure I could truly capture “The Starman”. I also listened to the music of David Bowie while working on this digital illustration to stay inspired and connected to the incredible artist. As with all my illustrations I started with a sketch and line drawing before I started painting. To get the final painterly look and feel I used photoshop brushes that have a feel like traditional brushes. I also applied some paper textures over the final digital painting to make it feel like it could have been painted on illustration board.
Once my digital illustrations are finished I send them off to a professional Giclee printer. These Giclee prints are museum-quality, archival, fine art prints. Printed using Giclee Pigment Inks on Acid-Free Archival Paper. They are high-resolution, with accurate color, they are acid-free for a longer print life.
If you want a limited edition fine art print head over to my shop or tap the link below.
ThE STARMAN Process
Check out this quick video that shows my process as I build up the layers. I start with a rough sketch to get the form down. Then a tighter line drawing with some details. Then I pop in a color background so I can see color more accurately. Then I get to work painting the portrait, then the background, and move back and forth between the two. I start with a rough underpainting and then tighten the portrait painting up as I go. This digital painting has over 130 photoshop layers built up to get the final look.