The Star Wars Art of Mats Gunnarsson

January 31, 2013 at 7:42 am | Posted in Art, Interview, Star Wars, The Roqoo Depot Galleria, Toys & Collectibles | Leave a comment

The old vintage Star Wars action figures, while not always the most accurate depictions of their film counterparts, have a certain visual appeal. Part of it is nostalgic, but part of it is stylistic. The old figures had a look the mirrored the time period they were from.

Now if someone told me they were going to do an art portrait series on the vintage Star Wars figures, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. But sometimes seeing is believing.

Below are a series of oil paintings by Swedish artist Mats Gunnarsson. Mats captures the look of the old toys many of us grew up with as well as a tiny piece of the nostalgia of our childhoods. We also managed to snag a moment of Mats’ time and asked him a few questions. We hope you enjoy our gallery of Mats Star Wars artwork and his interview below.


(painted February 2012)

“This is my first oil painting depicting a vintage Star Wars figure. I never had Amanaman or any of the last 17 as a kid, but he really makes a great painting.” -Mats Gunnarsson

Boba Fett, IG-88 and Bossk

(painted March 2012)

“Three vintage Kenner Bounty Hunters from The Empire Strikes Back, painted in front of a dark brown background.” -Mats Gunnarsson

Hammerhead and Greedo

(painted February 2012)

“Hammerhead and Greedo were two of my favorite figures as a kid, just because they looked cool. Here they are 34 years later, still looking cool. I really should paint all of the Creature Cantina figures, but I still don’t have the Blue Snaggletooth.” -Mats Gunnarsson

R2-D2 and C-3PO

  (painted April 2012)

“Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio in all their vacuum plated glory. I used the original 1978 versions as models.” -Mats Gunnarsson

Darth Vader and Stoormtroopers

 (painted March 2012)

“The Evil Lord Vader in 4 1/4″ plastic and two of his fearsome 3 3/4″ stormtroopers. Black and white figures tend to get boring, but illuminated with my iPad they turned out ok.” -Mats Gunnarsson


 (painted March 2012)

“The vintage Kenner version of Yoda, complete with a cloth robe, orange snake and a cane, is painted in front of a dark brown background.” -Mats Gunnarsson


 (painted June 2012)

“This is a painting of an Imperial Stormtrooper figure illuminated with my iPad.” -Mats Gunnarsson

Boba Fett

 (painted June 2012)

“Here’s a painting of the 1979 Kenner BOBA FETT intergalactic bounty hunter figure.” -Mats Gunnarsson

Our interview with Mats Gunnarsson…

What inspired you to paint Star Wars action figures?

Mats: Gunnarsson: I’m a fan of the movies, and I have really fond memories of playing with Star Wars figures as a kid, so I guess it’s part nostalgia. And I love when you take things not meant to be, or considered to be art, like comics, video games or toys, and present them as fine art. So, here I have these wonderful plastic toys from my childhood. Why not paint them in oil and add a gold frame.

Can you describe your creation process?

MG: I approach this like an artist traditionally would a still life painting, but instead of a fruit bowl or flowers, I arrange Star Wars figures on the table before me. I start sketching on paper, then I transfer the drawing to a 5 mm board of masonite which I have sanded and primed beforehand. I use Beckers “A” oil paints and mediums which I apply in several layers. The paint needs to dry between layers, so I often work on more than one painting at a time.

How long does it take you to complete a painting?

MG: It usually takes several weeks to finish a painting, but it depends on size, number of figures and amount of detail. I put in many hours and a lot of work in each and every one. After a painting is completed it can take months (or even years) for the oil paint to dry completely.

How do you select which action figures to paint ?

MG: I just pick a few that I think will make a great painting. But if it’s commissioned work, the buyer usually has an idea of which figure or figures he or she wants.

Who is your favorite Star Wars character?

MG: I don’t have a favorite character, or figure, but creatures and masked bad guys are the most fun to paint.

Do you have plans to paint more Star Wars figures?

MG: Sure, there are many figures left to paint. I have just finished a painting of some Jawas, and I’m currently working on a Bounty Hunter painting and a painting of the Early Bird figures. I also would like to make some larger paintings with more elaborate figure arrangements, and throw in some vehicles and play sets.

Any plans to branch out to other toy lines?

MG: No, I have no plans to paint other toys at the moment. But you’ll never know. Lego maybe…or the vintage Kenner Indiana Jones line…

Are you planning on going to Star Wars Celebration Europe this year?

I have no plans at the moment. Future will tell…

We want to thank Mats for taking the time to answers our questions. All of the above paintings are available for purchase on Mats Gunnarsson’s website, Be sure to check it out.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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