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Project Mars


The Project Mars Competitions goal was to foster a creative environment around the recent plans for a return trip to the moon and from there venture to the unknown red planet. The guidelines were very straightforward for this design: create a graphic about this mission, what astronauts may see, and their dreams for the future of exploration. Below are the two submissions I entered into the competition.

My Role

  • Visual Design

  • Illustration

  • Typography

Software + Skills

  • Adobe Illustrator

  • Adobe Photoshop


Process Notes

I began by very roughly getting out some ideas and key words in the hope that some of them would strike me with inspiration. With all of these goals in mind I knew I wanted to create a poster that was playful and light hearted as well as incorporating a lot of color.


  • Lighthearted/colorful/playful

  • Instill a sense of wonder and optimism

  • Capture the essence of a new age of space travel

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Mood board

Over the past years NASA has had a retro resurgence, the logo and slogans have been popping up on anything from t-shirts in Urban Outfitters to stickers on laptops across college campus. The phrase “retro resurgence” instantly struck a chord with me, and I was inspired by the extravagant designs of the 80’s.

I threw together this mood board to identify some key elements of 80’s design: neon glows, chrome text and bright colors were just some of the common themes throughout them. Using this mood board I let those key features carry me into the design phase where I hoped to capture this eras essence.



Moon, Mars & Beyond…

Main Elements

The Orion Spacecraft is the theoretical module to carry humans from Earth to the Moon, where the Moon will serve as a later launching pad to Mars. For that reason I chose that spacecraft as the focal point of my poster. Additionally, because the craft is reflective it was a perfect opportunity to try some 80’s chromatic flare. The typography above, using the same color scheme as Orion, allowed me to experiment with layered gradients and incorporating the Chrome text that was so commonly found in my mood board inspiration. As the subtext of the foreground I wanted the same font style, without the chrome effect, to capture the essence of Orions purpose.

Mid-Ground Elements

Since Orion is destine to travel to both the Moon and Mars, I wanted to include them in the mid-ground, both the planets poses a neon glow that accompany their characteristics. Mars was chosen to be pink to portray its usual warm tone hue, and the moon as shades of icy blue to show its usual cool tone glow in the earths night sky.

Background elements

Finally for the background I included an array of neon gradients. The overall gradients purpose was to encompass the poster and be home to a scatter of stars. Second, the large strip to guide the viewers eye from the “Orion” text down to the center of the poster and lastly another gradient to guide the eye from the center, around the moon and down to the posters subtext.

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Pivot Point:

As an Design intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory I was constantly surrounded by inspiration. The “Visions of the future” poster series released by JPL was posted around me everywhere, and I felt that this was also a perfect avenue to display the Project Mars concept. I put together a second mood board and instantly fell in love with the soft colors, smooth lines and campy slogans of the vintage travel posters. The same hues reminded me of an Indie video game called “monument valley” and I included some clips from that as well since I thought it captured the futuristic aspect of space travel.

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Hotel Mars

The Process

I love to merge fantasy and whimsical design while upholding rigid and architectural structures. Through this isometric style, I wanted to capture what Mars’ future in the hotel and tourism industry might be like. I wanted the poster to portray an optical illusion-style hotel, while simultaneously having a fun and lighthearted mood.

The series of travel posters “visions of the future” that was released by JPL also had very clever and campy slogans, while still holding very valuable and accurate information for each of the planets portrayed. That poster series greatly inspired the phrases on this design. Mars possesses about 38% of the gravity as we have here on Earth which is why I chose the saying on the bottom.

For the creation of the elements on my design, I used a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator. I began by creating an isometric grid guideline that I built all of my structures within. For the color scheme, I wanted to keep with a light and dusty palette that remained true to the vintage travel poster style a well as the planets natural red hues. All of these processes together resulted in this final product.