Interview: Jerrod Maruyama talks Star Wars


Illustrator Jerrod Maruyama has a joyful take on the Disney Universe — innocent and child-like, his versions of Mickey Mouse, Buzz and Woody show what is inherently appealing and lovable about these characters, what attracts babies, toddlers, teens, and adults alike. It’s an incredible feat that Disney continues to accomplish, and Maruyama fits into that lineage perfectly.

Disney is set to release Star Wars themed art into WonderGround Gallery and on Saturday January 16th, Maruyama will bring his first take on the galaxy far, far away with his print ‘May the Force Be With You‘ to the gallery with an artist signing alongside fellow Disney artist Noah.


Jerrod Maruyama signing at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney

January 16th – 17th signing from 6PM – 8PM







'May the Force Be With You' by Jerrod Maruyama for WonderGround Gallery

‘May the Force Be With You’ by Jerrod Maruyama for WonderGround Gallery


ETDC: Is your print ‘May the Force Be With You’ WonderGround Gallery’s first foray into showcasing Star Wars? Was there much, if any, direction or feedback from Disney on your design?

JM: Yes, this is the first time Star Wars properties are appearing in original artwork at WonderGround Gallery. I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been asking about the possibility of Star Wars art since the gallery first started.

As for the feedback on the piece, it was minimal. I’ve been working with the gallery for a while now so the process is pretty streamlined. There’s always a back and forth but this one went quickly with only a few suggestions from Disney and Lucasfilm.

Your work is cute overload – deliriously adorable, but with ‘May the Force Be With You’ you took some of the darkest moments of the franchise. Greedo dies, Jabbba dies. Luke loses his hand at the saber of his father. With so many iconic moments to choose from, how did you narrow down your choices? Did you try to stay away from the cuteness the universe has? No Ewoks?

I think cute is more effective when it’s in contrast to the subject matter at hand. Pushing that contrast results in a much more interesting take, in my opinion. Ewoks are already cute so to try and add to that is a little more difficult to do – and a lot less interesting.

So, making a character like Greedo cute or portraying some of the darker moments of the films makes the cute really pop. I think it makes for a more engaging image. And this is the Star Wars universe so these are very iconic characters and scenes. You want to provide a fresh take on these films that so many of us have seen countless times.


'A World Of Cute' by Jerrod Maruyama for WonderGround Gallery

‘A World Of Cute’ by Jerrod Maruyama for WonderGround Gallery


'A World Of Evil' by Jerrod Maruyama for WonderGround Gallery

‘A World Of Evil’ by Jerrod Maruyama for WonderGround Gallery


Will the ‘May the Force Be With You’ print have a custom cut matte like your ‘World of Cute’ and ‘World of Evil’ prints?

That’s up to Disney. They have a terrific group that does the printing and framing of the pieces. They always do a fantastic job and I’m sure they’ll do the same for this piece. I don’t know what they’ve done for the deluxe print. I won’t know until I see it at the gallery.


Jerrod Maruyama designs at the WonderGround Gallery

Jerrod Maruyama designs at the WonderGround Gallery


I know you don’t always know what items your designs will appear on, but it seems a lot of your work is getting printed on one item only. Mugs. Prints. Do you design with a print in mind and have to revise the composition if WonderGround wants if for a shirt?

All the pieces for WonderGround are designed as a work of art. That’s first and foremost. The merchandise and all of the other stuff comes later.

I never design with merchandise in mind, specifically, though some images certainly lend themselves to products more than others. It’s certainly a fun part of the process for me. But in the beginning, it’s the art that’s the thing — as it should be. So, yes, I do sometimes have to re-work the composition of the art to fit merchandise whether it’s a t-shirt or a magnet set or a mug.

Disney has been great in that they involve me any time the art has to be modified in any way. They’ve been extremely respectful and generous when it comes to the artist’s work.

With the gallery going head into showing original Star Wars art, has there been any talk of you possibly creating work in the Marvel universe?

I’ve asked about Marvel properties as well. No word yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!


WonderGround Gallery, Downtown Disney

WonderGround Gallery, Downtown Disney


Previously on Evil Tender – Interview: The Disney Illustration Process with Jerrod Maruyama


One thought on “Interview: Jerrod Maruyama talks Star Wars

  1. I am so excited for you and all your accomplishments! I knew you were talented and am so happy that you reached your goals!!! bob and I wish you the very best and hope to see your gallery very soon! Best to you. alma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *