OCEANSIDE — Neville Page’s creatures have wreaked havoc in blockbusters from JJ Abram’s “Star Trek” and “Cloverfield” to “Green Lantern,” “Super 8” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” — the highest grossing film in history. Credits also include the television series “Falling Skies.”
Fans can meet Page at the Oceanside Museum of Art from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 5 for an event titled “The Beauty in the Beast: Crafting Creatures by Neville Page Exhibition Tour and Live Demonstration of Creature Development.”
The exhibit features Page’s design progressions, from early pencil sketches to more developed digital concepts and small 3-D models.
Page was born in England in 1965 into an entertainment family.
At one time, his parents worked in the circus where his father played in a band while his mother rode an elephant in the big top.
The family traveled to the United States, settling in Chicago when he was 5. Today, he still remembers his dad building a 9-foot papier-mâché shark costume young Neville carried on his shoulders on Halloween.
Looking back, he credits his family and their friends with fostering his imagination.
“They listened to me as if I was sane when deliberating about the spacecraft or submarine I was building,” he recalled. “It gave me the confidence to go down this path. However, I must give credit to the nature versus nurture side of this equation, which was my Granddad Lee. He was a watercolor painter and introduced me to drawing, perspective, composition and the love of the craft!”
The release of “Star Wars” inspired Page to move crosscountry at 17 to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena.
“I figured that if I became an actor, I could be the characters I so cherished, wear the costumes, wield the light saber and fly an X-Wing,” he said.
After working as a waiter, and a brief stint on “General Hospital,” he decided to get more control over his life and enrolled in the Art Center College of Design to study industrial design and enter the film industry.
He graduated in 1990 and in 1994 accepted a teaching position at the Art Center’s branch in Switzerland where he met lifelong friend and collaborator, Scott Robertson, a transportation designer.
“When we came back Neville broke into the movie industry,” Robertson explained. “After ‘Avatar’ he unleashed his skills and passion for the subject and one thing led to the next.”
The two continue to collaborate on projects that include a book about creature design to be released by Robertson’s Design Studio Press in Christmas 2013.
Page recently wrapped “Star Trek: Into the Darkness” with JJ Abrams and is working on a new science fiction project titled “Inception” for the cable channel Starz. He also serves as a judge on the reality show “Face Off” on the Syfy channel.
Despite being associated with technology, he says he prefers the basics.
“The media that I was first introduced to was a pencil,” he said. “My go-to design tool is still a pencil. In fact, I just purchased a new lead and holder a couple of days ago. German, elegant, precise … drawing utensils deserve that respect.”
Page’s go-to place for inspiration is nature.
“The best, most resolved designs exist, have had millions of years of patient R&D and there is no point in trying to best it as nature will always trump you,” he explained.
A teacher for 15 years, Page advice to kids who want to follow in his shoes is to “hunker down and learn.”
“Get the craft down and really learn the tools to communicate visually,” he said. “This is our language and you need to be able to articulate. Once you are fluent, then you had better have something of worth to say. That is where you always need to remain intellectually relevant. Know the sciences, history, religion and psychology. Intelligent design starts with you.”
He adds that it’s equally important to keep learning and share what you’ve learned.
“Art is about feeding one another,” he said.
For more information, visit nevillepage.com, designstudiopress.com and drawthrough.com.
The Oceanside Museum of Art is located at 704 Pier View Way.
It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.