Veteran Star Trek Illustrator John Eaves Honored With Lifetime Achievement Award By Art Directors Guild

Artist John Eaves has been creating iconic designs for Hollywood for 35 years including many Star Trek films and television series, and so the Art Directors Guild Awards has decided to honor his lifetime of work.

John Eaves honored

Today the Art Directors Guild announced John Eaves will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illustrators and Matte Artists at the 25th Annual ADG Awards. The award will be presented to him by veteran Star Trek production designer Herman Zimmerman. According to the ADG, the event will “celebrate Eaves’ artistic contribution to the many space vehicles, sets, and concepts that have become classics in the Marvel, Star Trek, and Sci-Fi worlds that we know today.”

“For the past 36 years, John’s work as a Production Illustrator has been an integral part of over 100 films and television shows. From props to sets, to vehicles, to gadgets, and, most prominent and recognizable, a small fleet of starships for the Star Trek franchise, John has inspired many and left an amazing mark on our industry. We celebrate his creativity, talent, and contributions to the Craft and honor him with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Tim Wilcox, ADG Illustrators & Matte Artists Council Chair.

John Eaves working on Star Trek: Insurrection 

Eaves first contact with the Star Trek franchise was his uncredited work as a model-maker for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in 1989. Following that he joined the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine art department as a production illustrator. He also worked on three of the TNG-era feature films (First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis). Perhaps his most notable contribution to those films was the design of the USS Enterprise-E introduced in First Contact. He also went on to work as a concept artist for Star Trek: Enterprise.

From Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves

Eaves was one of the few people who made the transition to the J.J. Abrams-produced feature films. He worked as a concept illustrator for the 2009 Star Trek film, an illustrator for 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and as a concept artist for 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. He then joined the new Star Trek Universe of television shows as a concept artist for both Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard.

Much of his work for the Trek franchise was immortalized in Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves, published by Titan Books in 2018.

From Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves

Outside of Trek, John Eaves has worked as a concept artist on many of Hollywood’s most successful franchises, creating iconic vehicles, spaceships, and designs. These include Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Iron Man 3. He also worked as a prop designer and model maker for films that include Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Ant-Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 2, Batman Forever, Toys, Die Hard 2, and The Hunt for Red October.

In the video below from 2020 Eaves can be seen at the Pima Air and Space Museum talking about how he likes to draw on real-world sources for some of his sci-fi designs, including Star Trek.

The ADG Awards ceremony, set for Saturday, April 10, 2021, will break with tradition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be presented on a virtual platform, streaming to a worldwide and more inclusive audience. The event is free to everyone, but registration is required at

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Couldn’t be more deserving. Congrats John and thank you for your work!

Congratulations! Well deserved.

Finally! Something all Star Trek fans can agree on! Well done.

Not everyone, apparently.

There are definitely a lot of ppl who don’t like Eaves’ work, but I would hope they all recognize he is nonetheless deserving of the achievement and award

That’s fine to have that opinion, particularly in a creative endeavor. I readily admit to not being a fan of Michael Jackson. That doesn’t stop me from recognizing he was a talented individual and is deserving of recognition for that. That’s on of those kindergarten life lessons, if you can’t say something nice, say nothing.

I get what you’re saying Phil and to an extent I agree or at least I would say that there’s a time and a place and a lifetime achievement award announcement article is maybe more suited to congratulatory messages. Working so long in show business and particularly in a franchise in which the fans pore over every little detail though I’m sure John will have come across far worse than anybody has said in this thread. I also don’t think you’re going to change the mind of anybody that wants to critique his work here. So I say it’s far better to move on from that point, so the thread doesn’t get hijacked by the negative and the positive comments outweigh the critical ones.

For the record I’m a big fan of Mr Eaves work. And that opinion doesn’t change on the days his lifetime contribution to the field isn’t being recognised. I personally think his designs have resulted in lots of beautiful starships appearing on screen. I understand the point that Cmd.Bremmon is trying to make, ie that the period and setting of Enterprise allowed for a more primitive design that broke the typical Star Trek traditions but I actually love the NX-01. What I particularly appreciate about his work in Trek is that over the last decade or two the franchise has been in a phase of revision/reboot but John’s designs have been there as a through line or an anchor even. There have been changes and redesigns of classic ships and technology but fundamentally they’ve all still been Star Trek and that’s kept this fan very happy. So congratulations Mr Eaves and thanks so much for your invaluable contributions to Star Trek.

Proud of him and proud to call him a friend.

Love his work.

Congrats with the award, from a technical production stand point well done.

That being said I would like to know what happened with Enterprise – why the NX-01 ended up more Akira than SpaceX / Phoenix (an opportunity to revitalize the series with functional ships and exciting CGI features like laser turrets, mass drivers etc) and then what happened to Discovery Season One (exception – that beautiful 1701 and even then why not have the straight nacelle pylons)? Wish you could take the DIS 1701 and surround it with Kevinverse TOS ships.
Not sure why he tossed out FASA, SFB, Rick Sternbach’s Space Flight Chronology, Franz Joseph’s concepts for the era in favor of well, what we got.
Is some crazy Producer / Director pushing TNG blandfest ships or what?!?

Ah yes. We can always count on you to complain. Mr. Eaves has done amazing work over a number of decades and is being very rightly awarded for his phenomenal contributions. Can’t you leave it at just saying something nice just this once? Smh.

I know, I know, how DARE I??
You’d better terminate me.

Congratulations…..but (insert long list of personal complaints and whining here).
Hey, you’re just asking questions, right?

Sorry. Rah rah, awesome work!
Who wanted the NX-01 to not look like the Akira anyway??

You, apparently. It sure seems to have your undies all knotted up to the point where you’re feeling the need to piss on someone’s achievement award.

Hey, I’ve met Eaves, interviewed him a couple of times and think he is a very nice guy and that he has done some very good work, much of it under trying circumstances. But that doesn’t mean I’d rubber stamp approvals for all he has done, not by a long shot. I don’t believe in the auteur theory either, where if you like a director’s work, you have to like ALL of his work; that’s crazy. To me, the FC and later Starfleet designs have got hull plating that looks almost like it was lifted from a K’tinga, very busy and unStarfleet IMO. But that doesn’t take away from how much I like other stuff he did, and it isn’t pissing on things to mention it, because who needs unqualified praise? I mean, he got the award, that is an acknowledgement of the very good work, right?

It’s a career achievement award, so someone, somewhere thinks there have been a lot more hits then misses. So, yeah, you’re pissing on it if you’re holding someone to the standard that if even one sneeze pattern into a Kleenex wasn’t a masterpiece, then he’s clearly a studio hack….which was strongly implied above.

Is it not valid to point out that someone can both be honored for an achievement and also state the personal opinion that you don’t like their work? I’ve heard plenty [*plenty*] of fans on the internet opine that Eaves’ designs are busy, angular, and a departure from some of the sleeker and more refined starships from other designers. So like, if this isn’t the article to have a reasoned debate about whether his designs are good, then what is?

Side note, I asked a modeling group on fb what they thought of the Disco detached nacelle far future aesthetic, and it was almost universally panned. Everyone thinks it’s dumb, there were 275 comments and all but a small handful hated the detached nacelle design. Eaves’ work on the whole isn’t as polarizing, but many fans have pointed out their critiques of his designs, and it doesn’t take away from the honor that he clearly deserves and has earned.

I don’t think you understand there’s a difference between being honored and criticized. At a wedding, when the officiant asks if anyone has anything to say, are you the guy who stands up, clears his throat, and offers, “hey, this is great, but seriously, Susan, you couldn’t be bothered to lose twenty pounds for your big day? You all know Steve wears a toupee, right? It’s a shame whatever kids you’ll have will have to deal with premature baldness….but, again, congratulations.

Side note – congratulations. You found a FB group of people who agree with you. That’s quite an achievement. I can find FB groups that actually believe the ex-president won reelection. In a landslide. Carried all fifty states. So, I’m not sure how it’s revevant to an artist winning an award, other then you have a circle of friends who agree with you that Eaves is a studio hack.

Let me guess, kmart, you’re just keeping it real, right? Do you approach new mothers on the street and let them know their babies are just the ugliest things ever birthed, because we all know the the unqualified praise of gushing over what should be a happy moment in someone’s life is just postponing the crushing dissapointment that infant will feel in having the unvarnished truth hidden from them? I’m pretty sure Mr. Eaves is aware of the criticism’s of his work, without guys like you getting all worked up that you won’t likely get the chance to remind him in person at the presentation that awards are stupid, and he’s nothing but a studio hack.

What are you responding to exactly? You already replied to my post and offered nothing of value or that merited rebuttal from me, so are you just running down the line of posters with whom you differ on this, even when they haven’t continued to engage with you?

I was fine with the NX-01’s look 20 years ago. Still feel fine about it now.

The old Akiraprise complaint is back… Funny; I had to think of the term Adiraprise during DSC S3 :-)) Honestly, the Akira never really was a thing. Even if it served as an inspiration for NX-01, the ship turned out a perfect fit on the outward. I agree that its tech was a tad too advanced. I would have liked some less advanced precursors of Trek tech, such as a transporter system involving transporter tubes with pattern enhancers instead of the same smooth systems we had known from the future.

As for DSC designs… yawn… it was supposed to be a visual reboot, a game plan somewhat altered as the series progressed. They ditched most of that stuff such as hairless Klingons, holographic com sytems etc… But it started out as a visual do-over so they just did their jobs given by the producers.

Garth, I have read interviews that a lot of the designs (Akiraprize for example) were the result of the production staff not “getting” Trek and rejecting Eaves original faithful designs.
The results can still mean Eaves did as good as he could given mistakes above his pay grade.
That’s why I say he is technically great, just wish the Producers had used his talents better.

Congratulations, and thank you so much! Your phenomenal work is inspirational and everlasting.

Generic congrats!! Thumbs up!

The E-E is a thing of beauty. Thanks John for that alone.

The Enterprise-E is a thing of beauty. Congrats, Mr. Eaves. Congrats!

The Enterprise E is still one of the most beautiful ships ever devised a quarter of a century later. Crazy he’s been involved with the franchise for so long in pretty much every iteration post-TOS.

Well done John. The Enterprise-E remains my all-time favourite starship design.

He’s done some wonderful designs over the years, I particularly adore the Enterprise E and the work he did on Enterprise. Great to see him recognized!

I don’t like all of his designs but I appreciate the guy for his hard work and longevity in the business. Also you gotta appreciate him for being part of the Star Trek franchise for so long.

Congrats, John!

Really, really dislike his work on Trek, but he’s done it for a while so I suppose had to be recognised.

He can only dream of creating Federation ships as beautiful as the Constitution, Miranda, Excelsior or Galaxy. Instead we get the USS Copy Paste lol.

Congratulation’s ,love his work.

That’s awesome! I met him a couple of times when I worked at the Paramount lot back in the 90s. I was in the product development department and he was incredibly nice and helpful whenever we needed any resources. Congrats!

Congratulations and very well deserved! The Enterprise-E is my most favourite Star Ship ever, of Star Trek and all franchises. Only this masterpiece he deserves this. Not so found of the DIS era ships and well Kelvin timeline..even John Eaves couldn’t save this messy shit

Met him in Vegas in 2019
Have an autographed picture of the “E” on my wall.
Great guy, spoke to him for several minutes.
Then he donated a few dozen prints for my spouse to give away at Trekonderoga. The Star Trek sets in Ticonderoga, NY. She helps with coordinating some events there..
If you’re reading this, Mr. Eaves?
Congrats! Well earned. You’ve made the Star Trek world feel “real” for so many fans…

So well deserved, he has brought so many awesome visions to life and has helped define the look of much of modern Star Trek.

Plus, he was super nice to me at Salt Lake Comicon in 2015. I ran into him at artists alley, and decided I’d buy a print of the Enterprise E. For whatever reason, his card reader at the booth didn’t work, and in spite of me offering to run to the ATM and grab some cash, which was just across the hall, he told me not to worry about it and just gave me this autographed print for free. One of my favorite comicon memories.

He has a great vision. Great Designs. Stunning. Full of Greatness. Stunning again. Full of Love for his work. ENTERPRISE 1701-E is the perfect STARFLEET Ship.