If you’re reading this, you’re among those who lived to see a new decade…unfortunately, Syd Mead can’t say the same. Passing away this week at the age of 86, Mead was one of the most influential artists in all of Hollywood.
Mead designed the grimy future-punk metropolis seen in Blade Runner, which influenced the look of countless movies, TV shows and stories told in other media. Mead would return to his most famous creation decades later, designing the buildings for Blade Runner 2049.
But Mead also worked on a ton of other movies and shows, some equally iconic. The light cycles in Tron? Based on a Mead design. The hallways in Aliens? They were Mead’s (and building on the work established by HR Giger in the preceding film). He also designed areas in video games, including Aliens: Colonial Marines, Cyber Speedway, Wing Commander: Prophecy, and CyberRace.
Mead has always been sketching production art, but he started out designing cars, not movies. His first Hollywood gig came at the tail end of the 70s when he was hired to design V-Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Things blossomed from there. Mead worked for the majority of his life, and did not officially retire until four months ago. Altogether, the man spent 60 years in his field.
In the end, the world of 2019 didn’t look as dark and gloomy as Mead envisioned it (which is kind of a good thing, even if it was pretty to look at) but his art and legacy will endure forever.