Syd Mead, concept artist and “visual futurist” has passed away at the age of eighty-six. His design contributions are well known to fans of sci-fi as his work includes movies such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, and Aliens.
The news of his passing was shared by Autoline’s John McElroy on Facebook yesterday.
McElroy wrote of Syd’s passing: “He was one of the greatest designers and futurists of of our times. Syd Mead passed away this morning. His work and influence will outlive him forever.”
Many honored and remembered Syd on Twitter. Tesla founder Elon Musk wrote, “Rest in peace Syd Mead. Your art will endure.”
Rest in peace Syd Mead. Your art will endure.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 30, 2019
Halo, Fortnite, and Marvel Production designer Davison Carvalho also spoke about Syd’s passing. He wrote, “His art and design mind influenced us all, not only other artists but the entertainment industry artistic essence; He changed practices and quality bar forever for better.”
No, not the master. Rest in peace Syd Mead.
His art and design mind influenced us all, not only other artists but the entertainment industry artistic essence; He changed practices and quality bar forever for better.
Thanks for inspiring us all. R.I.P. king futurist. pic.twitter.com/Peqf9y4Jlj
— Davison Carvalho (@colorblindmess) December 30, 2019
Cartoon Brew also paid tribute to Syd Mead. They noted that his work spanned decades from Blade Runner to Tomorrowland and Elysium.
#RIP Syd Mead, the concept artist & illustrator who played a pivotal role in designing the look of films like BLADE RUNNER, ALIENS, TRON, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, TOMORROWLAND and SHORT CIRCUIT, has died at 86. He was to be honored by the Art Directors Guild next February. pic.twitter.com/JLYcAHsD4Y
— cartoonbrew.com (@cartoonbrew) December 30, 2019
Charles de Lauzirika, known for his work on Twin Peaks, many Alien films, Transformers, and as a field producer for DC’s Doom Patrol and Stargirl shared some photos of Syd while working on Blade Runner decades ago back in November.
He credits the futurist for setting “the tone and style” for Blade Runner’s iconic style.
In honor of his upcoming Art Director’s Guild award, today’s #PreciousPhotos shows #SydMead wandering the world of #November2019 he helped create. As #BladeRunner’s visual futurist, his mesmerizing concept art was key in setting the tone and style for the film’s signature look. pic.twitter.com/VMloD55808
— Charles de Lauzirika (@Lauzirika) November 29, 2019
Founder of Odd Tales Games, Tim Soret, also paid tribute to Syd. He wrote, “Without him, the visual language of science fiction wouldn’t have been the same. Here, his vision for the streets of Blade Runner.”
The Great Syd Mead passed away.
Without him, the visual language of science fiction wouldn’t have been the same. Here, his vision for the streets of Blade Runner. pic.twitter.com/sDENt67w8z
— Tim Soret (@timsoret) December 30, 2019
Syd wasn’t only a futurist well known for his work in the west. His work also includes official design work for Gundam as well as being tapped for a live-action version of the popular anime that never materialized.
A toast to Syd Mead, legendary futurist and, as far as I can recall, only westerner to do official design work for Gundam. He was even tapped to design for the 1980s live-action film that never came to be.
Rest in peace. You helped shape the look of the future for so many. pic.twitter.com/2eRhrnhKQs
— Relena Warcraft (@miss_sazabi) December 30, 2019
Last month, the Art Director’s Guild announced that they were going to honor Syd Mead with their William Cameron Menzies Award. ADG President Nelson Coates said of the famed designer:
“Syd Mead has played a pivotal role in shaping cinema with his unique ability to visualize the future. His visions and illustrations of future technological worlds remain as a testament to his vast imagination. Mead is one of the most influential concept artists and industrial designers of our time,”
The Art Director’s Guild Awards is set to be held February 1st, so the director will receive his award posthumously.
What movies can you think of that Syd has worked that sticks out in your mind? For me, his work in Aliens and Bladerunner will always come to mind, but most importantly the way Syd’s artistic touch is influencing the next generation of futurists, such as Elon Musk, shows that his work will continue to reverberate.