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The SCENE Magazine


Jan 31, 2013 09:39PM ● By SCENE MAGAZINE STAFF
For more than 30 years, space illustrator and designer, Pat Rawlings has been telling the stories of humans exploring space with his realistic renderings. His imagery captures not only his audience, but also the future in the final frontier. Rawlings creations are Space City icons recognized world-wide. His images mix creativity and imagination with scientific and technical accuracy as Rawlings consults with experts to create as he stated “a sense of being there.” His renderings are strangely familiar in the way they engage the viewer. Rawlings makes space seem comfortable and feel obtainable.

The University of Houston Clear Lake graduate lived in the Bay Area for over twenty years. It’s fitting that most of those years Rawlings lived in El Lago; which unofficially boasts of having more astronauts living there per capita than any other city in the world.

Though currently residing in the Texas Hill Country, Rawlings still designs projects locally for the Johnson Space Center and the Houston Economic Partnership.

His latest project was a four-sided mural based on one of his space-scapes inside an elevator in Building 15 of the Johnson Space Center. Rawlings said stepping into the elevator is like walking into one of his paintings. He added, that once the elevator doors close, “you’re encased in a piece of artwork.”

Many of Rawlings works adorn the Johnson Space Center including a sixty-foot long mural in the Building 11 cafeteria and several graphics of planets backlit with LED’s. Additionally, his conceptual art of future planetary missions is on display at the Kennedy Space Center. Rawlings’ largest framed project hangs majestically in the grand lobby of the Gilruth Center and depicts the general future of space exploration. Rawlings stated that his artwork “for all of the NASA Centers reflects more than a quarter century of space exploration plans, ranging from robotic planetary missions to the human exploration of Mars and beyond.”

Rawlings shared that he still enjoys creating conceptual art for a living, but also likes doing different work repurposing previous paintings in larger formats such as the murals. “It’s very cool to see my paintings bigger than you are,” he said.

Rawlings’ art career began in his hometown of Greenville, Texas as a technical illustrator for an airborne command post for a cold war era 747. He later moved to the Galveston area and heard about a technical illustrator job at the Johnson Space Center painting about future exploration in space. “I couldn’t believe you could get paid to make science fiction renderings at NASA. It seemed such a cool place to work,” stated Rawlings.

He said that he read lots of science fiction as a kid and was intrigued by future space exploration.

Rawlings creates his compositions using three main mediums including acrylics, sketches and 2-D and 3-D computer concepts and animation. To tell a story of human exploration, Rawlings said he builds space machines with the computer by scanning in drawings and painting using a digitizing pad and stylus. “It’s freehand with a computer and works to an advantage for me,” he added. According to Rawlings, his paintings and digital designs have been reproduced in hundreds of magazines, books, television programs and films both nationally and internationally.

Rawlings fancies himself as a visual storyteller. He hopes to engage people in wanting to explore space whether by joining NASA or simply living vicariously through others. Rawlings said he tries to “tell a story to get people to feel a part of it- to make them feel the future holds promise for them as well.”

View more of the works by space visionary Pat Rawlings by visiting his website at