Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Patch Guy

Hidden among the sand dunes of the Space Coast there resides an artist with a unique resume. Many of his works make the journey into Space as part of the equipment located on a Shuttle crew member's spacesuit. Tim Gagnon, who goes by the Internet name of "kscartist," has created several crew member patches for various shuttle crews throughout the years.

I like to call him "The Patch Guy," because Tim also designs many other different patches that range from commemorative patches for anniversaries of famous spaceflights to patches that encompass an entire program of flights like his Mercury, Gemini and Apollo series of patches.

Tim is a member of a group of children that grew up during the 1960's and were inspired by the race to the Moon. As such, his love of spaceflight and art came about almost at the same time and has continued to this day. Since 1986, Tim has used his own inspiration to inspire young kids through his work in the Young Astronaut Program. Tim has been a local ambassador for space flight in his community.

Personally, I have known Tim for many years through my visits to Florida and the Kennedy Space Center where our paths have crossed during various space related events down on the Cape as well as our enjoyment of art.

In response to my inquiries about what inspired Tim to create patches, he said, "People and events inspire me. Whether it is a meaningful shuttle mission like "Return to Flight" or Eileen Collins and her daughter," people and the events that they are involved in frequently provide the inspiration for art."

I have been trying to get Tim to paint some original patch art work for me for quite some time, but owing to his busy schedule, it took awhile to procure a couple of his works. Recently, Tim produced original pieces of two patches for me. The works of art are representative of his capabilities in creating space mission patches as well as commemorative patches.

One patch celebrates the 50th Anniversary of NASA and our country's history of space exploration. The second patch is an original patch design by Tim and his friend, Jorge Cartes for the STS-126 space shuttle mission to the International Space Station.

The painting shown in the photo below is from his commemorative series of works.

Tim originally created this patch digitally and I first saw this work as a embroidered patch in 2008. This patch is officially titled as, "Celebrating 50 Years of America in Space." The patch is such a wonderful representation of NASA's unique history as well as honoring the men and women who participated in those past events.

I must admit that I fell in love with this patch design. The shape, the colors and objects shown in the patch are a wonderful mix of design and symbolism. The red, white and blue colors of our country's flag coupled with the golden colors that represent a traditional 50th anniversary really caught my eye. The addition of the brilliant colors of a rocket launch against a background that feature the Earth, Moon and Mars just make for a composition that is pleasing to the eye. With the addition of the stars, as symbolic gestures to both the Moonwalkers and astronauts who gave their lives in duty to their country, the work becomes majestic and a fitting representation of NASA's achievements.

There is more symbolism in the work, but I will let Tim explain it in the following scan that proves his explanation of "Celebrating 50 Years of America in Space."

The second patch in the Space Art collection is that of an actual shuttle mission. Although Tim has co-designed many patches with the flight crews and Jorge Cartes, the patch displayed below is very personal to my family.

While a more complete explanation of the patch design process can be found at the Space Patches website by following this link, , the patch is of personal interest to our family, because of our friendship with some of the members of the crew.

Tim actually digitally designed the patch, as shown below, for embroidered patch manufacture, but I would later have him paint an original artwork for the collection.

When the STS-126 mission launched on November 14, 2008, it carried a little piece of our family into space. Unknown to me, my wife had conspired with Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper to place a family photograph on orbit in the Space Shuttle, "Endeavor," as a Christmas gift for me. I should have known something was up when Patti suggested that we go to the launch, but I didn't have a clue.

At Christmas, I was told that a surprise present would be arriving soon. Little did I know that the surprise would entail a visit from Heide in April of 2009 and a "Christmas gift" of a family portrait flown into space on STS-126.

It was a wonderful idea and gift from both Patti and Heide. We would later frame the photograph, certification and patch together and it now hangs in our living room.

Heide would also present us with a flown patch presentation that current hangs in my office.

As one can see this was a very special flight to our family, so when Tim suggested painting the STS-126 patch that he co-designed, I enthusiastically said, "Yes!"

When I asked Tim how he was able to work so successfully with the astronauts, his response was, "If I had to explain the "secret to my success" it's that I never forget that the art I am creating is not mine, but belongs to the crew. It's not my patch, but theirs. Accordingly, I will make suggestions based upon my experience, but the crew makes all the decisions. I am just the lucky guy to be able to work with the people I respect and admire."

In the photo shown above Tim shakes hands with Steve Bowen as Eric Boe, Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, Chris Ferguson and the rest of the STS-126 crew looks on.

Through the years, Tim has worked continually to perfect his skill as an an artist and designer of crew patches as well as commemorative space patches. At the same time, he has worked to give back to the community by his avocation of space exploration. Tim's donation of his artistic talent, time and treasure to NASA as well as his community has rewarded him in being one of the few people on Earth to have something as personal as his art travel to outer space.

You can see a gallery of his work at " "