A week ago I introduced the new edition, and the concept that I could use an artist. It probably should have occurred to me to mention what kind of artists I want. However, I'm not very good with visual arts, so I have to admit, my definition is a little hazy as to what is needed. My current ideas about illustration stem almost entirely from technical matters within the constructed world. A fresh set of eyes may be needed to convey the feeling rather than the blueprints.
I can't draw all that well, and have little sense of proportion, so those things I do attempt always seem a bit misshapen. (One of my sisters is a commercial architect - so we know where all the talent escaped to.) Engineering challenges tend to look better to me than statures and canvases.
During college I needed to write a paper about art and Immanuel Kant's theories on aesthetics (ie, the good, the beautiful, and the sublime). Instead of analyzing a painter, I turned the discussion to a matter of battleships in WWII. These are the ultimate objects d'art in my view. Without knowing anything about naval history or tactics, you still get a sublime feeling about power from one of those old vessels. To fulfill to "good/useful" aspect - well they are utilitarian bits of engineering for a specific job. However, historically they were mostly "infective" art not serving their intended purpose. Aircraft and submarines proved far more decisive and effective overall.
That long aside out of the way, I do know a few things I want for the setting. 2055 is kind of a "retro-future" as seen in the pages of popular mechanics or the covers of Baen Books SF. Its not about recycling motifs from the century before based on the date. Rather, the technical constraints of the world bring this on.
Nano-vac exists because anti-biotic resistant stains of bacteria are everywhere. Arcologies that cost as much as the moon shots are only economical if eliminating cars really is that important - and 2050 would be ten to twenty years after peak oil - so reducing transportation needs is critical. Non-Petroleum based power sources are far less energy dense, so you need a larger car to accommodate a sufficient number of batteries/fuel cells/etc. for a good range - and just owning a car is something to flaunt through sheer size. Zeppelins might be slow, but hydrogen is cheap and they're more efficient than airplanes.
A lot of focus is going to be on green buildings, glass and sun tubes, geodesic domes,perhaps mixed with cheep pre-fab construction to account for rapidly growing populations, and how people shift due to the more extreme weather.
Things that sounded like good ideas - but just couldn't compete with the economics of traditional building designs have come back because the economy has changed.
Planetary Citizens have two bit motifs - organic and tropical. Much of their home-world is mountainous or archipelagos - the Philippines and Hawaii are the closest Earth gets to being a paradise for them. They prefer low communal dwellings with either neutral tones similar to the surrounding earth, or fairly vibrant colors seen in exotic birds and flowers.
Turning back to art - I'm not sure if five years is really long enough for unique architecture to start cropping up in the city states. Yet I kind of see using alternating artists, or at least different styles to try and convey atmosphere about each place. Tesla is has a Tokyo at night/old 80s cyberpunk vibe, while New Birmingham is kind of a fascist gated community. NESTs were once bright and maintained like a seaside part of Los Angles or Miami, but now have kind of decayed and darkened, akin to those cites on the eve of a big storm or hurricane.
Suggestions about appearance are welcome of course.