Scenic artists Michael and Denise Okuda, best known for their creative designs for the Star Trek franchise and other iconic space adventure productions, will receive the Art Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scenic, Title & Graphic Artists (STG) at the 26th annual ADG Awards.
The awards ceremony, set for Saturday, March 5, 2022, will return to a live event next year at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown in the Wilshire Grand Ballroom.
The award will spotlight the Okudas’ artistic contributions to many of the memorable space-related dramas, their collaborations as creative producers for new visual effects, and their expert status as authors of “The Star Trek Encyclopedia,” among many other stellar accomplishments. This is the first of four Lifetime Achievement Awards to be announced by the Art Directors Guild.
“The roots of graphic design for film and TV can be easily traced back to Michael and Denise Okuda and their work on the Star Trek franchise,” said Clint Schultz, STG Council chair. “Through graphic design, the Okudas added a unique visual language to sets, whether it was through props, signage or their graphical user interface for playback (also known as Okudagrams). Additionally, their work on Star Trek led to ‘real-world’ graphic design opportunities and lending their artistic talents to NASA’s various space programs.
“On behalf of the Scenic, Title & Graphic Artists Council, we proudly salute the lifetime achievements of Michael and Denise Okuda. They continue to work and inspire all of us within the craft and are the true definition of teamwork.”
Michael Okuda is lead graphic designer on everything Star Trek and has earned screen credit on more Star Trek productions than anyone except creator Gene Roddenberry. A multiple Emmy nominee, he is responsible for everything from designing control panels to inventing alien written languages on the many Star Trek iterations.
His involvement in the franchise began with the movie “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and continued until the “Star Trek: Enterprise” went off the air in 2005. He returned to work on the remastering of “Star Trek: The Original Series” (1966-69) in 2006 and again for the remastering of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-94) in 2012.
His involvement in space hasn’t been limited to fiction. He has designed various emblems and logos for NASA and has designs that can be found at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the Planetary Society and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
His work hasn’t been limited to space movies, as it includes such productions as “The West Wing,” “Sully” and “Richard Jewell.” He is a member of the Television Academy, the Art Directors Guild, the Visual Effects Society and is an affiliate member of the Manned Spaceflight Operations Association. He and Denise are technical advisors on the Apple TV+ series “For All Mankind,” which presents an alternate history of the U.S. space program.
Denise Okuda, when she was still Denise Tathwell, was an uncredited extra in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979). She married Michael in 1993 and was video/computer playback supervisor and graphic artist on seven Star Trek television shows and motion pictures.
Her other credits include pilots for “Threshold,” “Star Patrol,” “The Flash” and “The Osiris Chronicles.” She recently served as a graphics consultant on the Netflix series “Space Force.”
Among the many other Star Trek-related projects she and Michael have worked on are the writing of several editions of “The Star Trek Encyclopedia,” two editions of “The Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future,” and “On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise.” She was even a medical consultant to the Star Trek writing staff.
To honor her creative work, Denise received the Spectrum Award, presented by the Cal State Los Angeles Eagle Con. She is a member of the Art Directors Guild and lives happily in Los Angeles with Michael and their two dogs.
Earlier this month, “Star Trek: Picard” showrunner Terry Matalas revealed that the Okudas were working in the art department on Season 3: “Beyond thrilled to have this group working on Season 3 of Star Trek Picard. It’s not a Trek without Mike Okuda and Denise Okuda.”
The ADG Awards honor excellence in production design in theatrical motion pictures, television, commercials, music videos and animated feature films. Additional ADG Lifetime Achievement Award honorees from the Production Designers and Art Directors Council (AD), the Set Designers & Model Makers Council (SDMM), and the Illustrators & Matte Artists Council (IMA) will be announced shortly.