When David Aste decided to do a piece of digital art showing a tall building in Vancouver, he didn't know it would lead anywhere, let alone a galaxy far far away.
He started by dropping the world's tallest building into Vancouver, the Burj Khalifa, and sharing it on Reddit; from there someone suggested he float a Star Destroyer over the city.
And then he went and did it nine more times, thanks to the support he got.
"It's funny because I didn't consider myself a big fan, but when I was talking with people I know here, it turns out I know a lot," Aste says.
Thanks to the popularity of his first few he decided to sell them; his online shop has just opened and he's working to get prints out to people. Early on he figured he would do a series, which he just wrapped up.
"There's been people asking me to finish this since October," he says.
Mashing Vancouver and Star Wars
His images depict a version of Vancouver overrun by the fictional empire, with a group of rebels fighting back; in one of his images a rebel helmet is covered in stickers referencing UBC, where he figures many of the rebels willing to fight Darth Vader would come from.
"I saw this kid with a skateboard on the bus and he had a ton of stickers on his board, and I was like, 'I guess the rebels would display their personality on their helmets,'" he explains.
In another a tie fighter chases down an X-wing off the shore of Stanley Park, and yet another shows an AT-AT walker stopped for an apparent rest at 'Walker Chilling Beach.' The Star Destroyer makes a return, even, shrouded in fog on the other side of the Lions Gate Bridge.
The images inject Star Wars into Vancouver in a broad sense, but Aste has also dropped details and Easter eggs into the images. For example, in "Walker Chilling Beach," the Vancouver parks board sign has been altered in two ways. The obvious way is the name; the image is a play on Barge Chilling Beach. But a much smaller detail lies in Vancouver's 'o,' which has been swapped out with an Empire logo. On top of that, the walker has an Uber light on it, since Aste figures when they're not moving troops they could help out the urban transit department.
Each piece is like that, with ICBC 'N' magnets, Empire poster propaganda and more logos spread about.
"It forces you to look a little bit closer to catch all the Easter eggs," Aste says.
One image he created he's not printing, since he wasn't happy with how it looked once printed. However, he's shared it with Vancouver is Awesome; it's the one of Science World done up Death Star-like.
While his Star Wars series is done, he's not sure what the future holds.
"There's a bunch of other stuff, Star Trek, there's the universe of the Gundam series, Godzilla," he muses. "That's the point, right? Mesh some pop culture elements into the city and see what that will look like."
How did he end up here?
Aste is originally from Mexico. He earned a degree in industrial design before deciding to move to Vancouver and become an international computer science student at Douglas College while living in Kerrisdale.
While working on his program (which he's just finished recently and is waiting to graduate from) he started doing graphic design as a part-time job.
"I've always been interested in it, but as a hobby, honestly," he says. "All the things I learned was mostly from YouTube and practice. I'm working as a graphic designer right now, you could say it happened just luck."
Right now he's trying to balance his new online art store, having a show at Tsawwassen Mills Mall (his art is on the wall at the Stargazer immersive exhibit) and graduating. Thanks to his art he's received media attention, and shown his work at the local Mexican consulate.
On top of that, he's got to decide on career aspirations, as his time with a student visa is now ticking down. That's slowed down his opportunities to create the series or explore future ideas, but he'd like to keep creating his science-fiction-melded-with-reality series.
"What that would be, though, I'm not sure," he says.