Ideas: I’ve done a fair number of these Coat of Arms drawings over the years. Each one is it’s own unique challenge and an expression of ancestral and personal legacy. With each new commission the ideas become more complex and I welcome all the creative conjuring they induce. This commission was like none other before. My friend Amber, commissioned this piece en memoriam of her late husband who passed recently and tragically from illness. I never had the opportunity to meet Antonio, but from reconnecting with her I’ve heard all about him and his love for all things Chicago and Star Wars related. Needless to say, I dove in creating this piece with all the elements that I hoped would truly appreciate and provide Amber with a personal remembrance of their love. As I discovered upon presentation of the artwork, he was her “always” and she was his “forever”. Perhaps this piece will act as a small visual reminder of that connection. Amber and Tony met at a mutual friend’s summer BBQ here in Chicago and then watched the fireworks together at Navy Pier that night. This special evening is captured in the center of a Rebel Alliance emblem. Y-wings and X-wings are flying overhead through the fireworks as they do in the celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi. You find the two of them embraced and looking out over the water at the colorful finale. They are also surrounded by a soft purple Omega symbol comprised of the clouds and reflections in the water and grass. Tony was very active with his fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta at UIC, gaining life long friends there. The Omega members are the brothers sadly no longer with us. He was the 18th pledge in his class and you will find those details in the opening scroll style elements under the figures along with their wedding anniversary. At the very top of the scroll is the phrase “Love Always” written in Aurebesh, the common written language of Star Wars. Tony’s favorite characters from the saga were Yoda and R2-D2. You find them on each side of the image within their introductory environments, Dagobah and Tatooine. In the center is the coat of arms of Guerrero, (Mexico) where Tony’s family hails from and also served him as a nickname. The yellow fabric at the bottom is from the elements of the original coat of arms as well as the red bars and cross moline. The twin suns of Tatooine are setting and the green lightsaber (his preferred color blade) illuminates it all from within the symbol of the Jedi Order. Each side of which is flanked by the colors of their alma maters; his UIC Flames and her UM Wolverines. The whole composition is buttressed with other elements of first encounters. A water vaporator from the moisture farm where R2 meets Luke on Tatooine, and the small lamp Yoda “acquired” from the young Jedi after he crash landed on the “slimy mudhole” of Dagobah. It was a bitter sweet experience creating this piece. Fun, sad, difficult, and rewarding. These feelings were fingers through the reeds as my pen made its marks. Ultimately, one of the most complex drawings to date. And also an artistic expression to celebrate a life taken far too soon. I am grateful, honored, and humbled that she would commission me to create a piece of art to always remember him by. In this very difficult time, tell the ones you love how much you do, and tell them often. It is never a wasted effort and tomorrow is promised to no one.