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Paul Olsen

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Paul Olsen is an artist, who has worked as a freelance artist in the roles of photographer, musician, writer, painter, and airbrush artist. His renown as the latter eventually secured him a commission as the lead painter of the refit-Enterprise studio model for its appearance in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Olsen was born and raised by a variety of family members in post-war San Fransisco (his father teaching him the art of photography, while his stint at the Foothill Community College, Los Altos, taught him everything he had to know about the graphic arts and their publishing). From 1965 onward, after his service in th US Marine Corps, Olsen fully immersed himself in the free-spirited art scene of San Fransisco of the latter half of the 1960s. During that time, Olsen honed his skills as painter and as musician, being founder and part of the band "Funky Features". Olsen later made a name for himself as the artist who designed and made the album covers of the solo projects of Robin Trower, former member of Procol Harum.

In 1978, Paul Olsen was working in Los Angeles as an airbrush artist, having acquired the skills through his friends, Peter Lloyd and Bob Knickerbocker, working on among others the magazine Playboy. Through a mutual acquaintance, Olsen was introduced to Jim Dow of Magicam, who had devised a paint scheme for the The Motion Picture Enterprise, but who did not have the staff capable enough to apply it. Olsen readily accepted and for the next six or seven months was deeply immersed in applying the paint scheme onto the model. In the process, Olsen got to know the modelers at Magicam quite well, not few of them he befriended, among others his close co-worker, responsible for the secondary hull paint application, Ron Gress. Upon completion of his work on the model, Olsen was asked by Douglas Trumbull to stay on to help out with visualizing some of the V'Ger effects. Olsen did, as a graphics artist, working alongside Production Illustrator Tom Cranham and Animation and Graphics Artist Alison Yerxa, causing his involvement to last for eight months.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture proved to be Olsen's very first involvement with the motion picture industry, as he has since then been involved with several other productions, mostly as main title designer, such as Brainstorm (1983), The Protector (1985), Explorers (1985), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and others. As author, Olsen wrote books on a varying range of topics such as relationships and the craft of airbrushing.

Though having received an official credit as "Animation and Graphics" in the end–title credits of the The Motion Picture–feature, Olsen's contribution went largely unnoticed for several decades, the only known period acknowledgment of his name in a period page-long advertisement of Magicam in the February 1980 issue of the magazine American Cinematographer (page 167). Nevertheless, through the advent of The Internet, his work has become known in the 2000s, as the model kit community came aware of his contributions, him graciously answering questions on modeling blogs like Eventually however, his growing repute led to his attendance at, first at a small 2004 Hollywood convention at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel on Highland Avenue, that did not make much of an impression on him, and subsequently to his attendance at the October 19-21 2012 "Destination Star Trek London Convention", which very much made an impression on Olsen. So much so in fact, that it inspired him to write the reference book, Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise.

Olsen gas changed habitats between the United States and Great Britain at least on three separate occasions, and is currently living in Forest Green, Surrey, UK.


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