MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Stars Wars fans are counting down until this Christmas when “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is due out in theaters. Hard to believe it was 1977 when the first Stars Wars film was released. Forty years later the franchise is still going strong, raking in, according to Fortune, over $7 billion at the box office.

Like many of us, our Minnesotan to Meet, Steve Thomas, remembers the first time he watched Star Wars.

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Thomas, a digital artist, started his career at a paper in Pittsburgh doing graphics and occasional illustrations, but it’s his latest work is a part of that far, far, far away galaxy and that’s what make Forest Lake’s Steve Thomas a Minnesotan to Meet.

Steve Thomas’s work starts first on a sketch pad in his Forest Lake office, then his computer and finally the finished version moves to a poster, which he describes as neo vintage.

“I first started with Mars and Venus,” Steve Thomas said, describing some of his first works of art.

His planet posters gave him the opportunity to take his work off the paper and onto people’s walls.

“I really like vintage travel and vintage art, so I did some travel posters to the planets. Then those caught people’s eye and from there I got some illustration jobs,” Thomas said.

Thomas thought it was time to take his chances on traveling to another galaxy.

“I kind of wanted to keep the space thing going, so I found a place that has a license to print and sell ‘Star Wars’ stuff. So I approached them and said, ‘I’d like to do some of these to some of the planets for the ‘Star Wars’ universe.’ And they said ‘Yeah.’ From there, that’s an instant fan base,” Thomas said.

His first Star Wars poster was this a Mos Eisley.

“It’s modeled after Monaco Grand Prix. I sort of switched out the elements and made it ‘geek,'” Thomas said.

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He said from there he’s probably done forty different Stars Wars posters in the last decade, including this latest one released by Acme Archives Direct to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first film.

Thomas is the only Minnesotan on the list of featured artists. His “A New Hope” artwork was released on May 25th in Europe, the actual date of when the film debuted in theaters. He calls seeing a snapshot of his work in a photo of film director JJ Abrams in Vanity Fair a real thrill.

“This is J.J. Abrams (film director), obviously his office with all the top brass involved in the movie. But, on the back wall are all my travel posters, which was amazing to see,” Thomas said, describing a photographer in Vanity Fair.

Back here on earth, he designed the 2011 Minnesota State Fair Commemorative poster.

And nationally he’s done designs for brands like Cliff Bar and Camelback.

Finally, from the big screen to the big stage – he’s even worked with his favorite band Pearl Jam.

“Concert posters, if you’re asking about freedom, you can do pretty much anything,” Thomas said. “I like to try to stick where the venue is and what’s related to that.”

Now Thomas’s galaxy is not just a dream, it’s his everyday life.

Thomas said he used to have Star Wars bedsheets as a kid growing up in Windsor, Ontario, so this really is a dream come true.

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Thomas is the illustrator on a book that came out this month from Penguin Books, it’s called the “Vacation Guide to the Solar System.” It’s a chapter book geared toward kids about what it would be like to visit each planet in the our solar system. It gives advice on what to eat, where and how to get there.