For this poster, I wanted to share the images of my 1978 suite of etchings, THE SPACEMAN. Editions of this suite are in the collections of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the Bibliotheque Nationale De France’s François-Mitterrand Library, but it was a work that I wanted more people to see, so I decided to create a poster.
Originally, the artwork was inspired by popular David Bowie song, Space Oddity. It gave me the idea to make a story of a man going to outer-space. I created many drawings, changing which scenes to depict, and how to show the story, then I made it into the etching suite. For the poster, I added colors to the images, to enhance the beauty and depth of the artwork. And I added the messages from the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), the American Astronaut Scott Carpenter, and the poet Archibald MacLeish, with themes of stewardship of the earth.
Artwork: Suite of 11 Etchings, 1979 (colorized in 2018) — SPACEMAN, by John August Swanson
Circling the earth in my orbital spaceship, I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty–not destroy it. –Yuri Gagarin
The earth is a delicate flower and it must be cared for. It’s lonely. It’s small. It’s isolated. And, we are mistreating it. This is our home, and this is all we’ve got. –Scott Carpenter
To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold–brothers who know now they are truly brothers. –Archibald MacLeish