It should probably look like elite and not seek to imitate any of the shows/movies mentioned.
I like the sound of that is there a link to the art work I would love to look at itScience fiction, even hard science fiction in its main stream, got pretty uniform over the decades.
If we're talking authors and founding fathers angle, Elite has obviously a very rational, hard sci-fi tone to it, meaning its centred around technology, economy and loosely-agreed 'realism', echoing by it notes of such voices as Arthur Clarke or Stanislaw Lem, with just a touch of Frank Herbert/Issac Asimov's background space-opera politics added to the mix as a flavour (very rightly so on FD's part). The wild-west ruthlessness of the world also brings to mind William Gibson's dystopian cyber-punk tones.
Still, overall it seems to me that although the general tone is closest to Clarke's and Asimov's visions of the future, rationality prevailing over all else.
The Earth-like would be closer to a utopia than a dystopia, given how much space mankind was suddenly granted to combat overpopulation. With cheap fuel and widespread FSD technology, we are generally doing very well as a race and the Blade Runnery type of vibe would not make a lot of sense. Not that I wouldn't want to see it in Elite.
Perhaps a nice, procedural variation could be in place - on one hand a sprawling, overpopulated and overcrowded blade runner-like city in certain places (Federation?), and more utopian, clean and garden-like in others (Empire?).
Judging by Frontier's art direction, there's not much to worry about in that department, it's the gameplay mechanics and loops that are mostly troublesome.