Skip to content

How Insects Inspire the Look of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films

Ryan Church

At the Closing Plenary on Wednesday at the 2018 Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia, graphic artist Ryan Church shared his journey from a youthful fascination with insects to a career in movie design.

Viewed up close, many insects evoke in human minds a sense of something alien. Their fantastic forms and colors often look like something straight out of a monster movie or space-odyssey epic.

But, really, it’s the other way around. Some insects look like science-fiction stars precisely because the creative minds behind popular entertainment look to insects to spark their imagination.

At the Closing Plenary on Wednesday at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia, graphic artist Ryan Church shared his journey from a youthful fascination with insects to a career in movie design. Church, a concept design supervisor at LucasFilm, has worked on numerous Star Wars movies as well as other science fiction blockbusters such as Star Trek, Avatar, and War of the Worlds.

Church‘s visions have typically been applied early in the creative process for these movies, taking scripts that live as mostly words on a page and developing sketches and full designs for elements such as characters, space ships, and environments. Even when these aren’t meant to be explicitly insect-like, Church says he finds inspiration in the incredible features of insects.

And, despite the wealth of insect macrophotography available online today, Church says he still turns to books he discovered in his younger years for inspiration, including Moths and How to Rear Them, by Paul Villiard, and Insects of the World, by Walter Linsenmaier.

Words, of course, can’t do much justice to the beautiful designs and imagery Church shared in his presentation, so below we’ll share highlights captured by attendees on Twitter to illustrate the connections Church makes between the natural and fictional world.

Learn more about Chuch’s work at www.ryanchurch.com. And be sure to follow along with the rest of the Joint Annual Meeting via Twitter at #EntSoc18 and #JAM18.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Entomology Today via Email

Enter your email address to receive an alert whenever a new post is published here at Entomology Today.