Syd Mead, the visionary concept artist who helped to craft the worlds of several science-fiction classics, has died at 86, multiple outlets reported.
According to Variety, Mead died on Monday at his home in Pasadena, California, after experiencing complications from a three-year battle with lymphoma. He was preparing to receive the Art Directors Guild’s William Cameron Menzies Award at the Guild’s 24th Annual awards in February, the outlet said.
Mead made his mark in cinema history by helping to shape the futuristic worlds of Blade Runner, Aliens, Tron and other films.
Art Directors Guild president Nelson Coates called Mead a “visionary illustrator” in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
“I am so saddened to hear of the passing of visionary illustrator and concept artist Syd Mead,” Coates said. “His pivotal role in shaping cinema was /unique, with a singular ability to visualize the future.”
“As one of the most influential conceptual artists of our time, his visions and illustrations of future technological worlds will remain as a testament to his vast imagination,” he added.
Mead first launched his career as a designer at Ford Motor Company after serving three years in the U.S. Army, Gizmodo said. He went on to start his own design firm, Syd Mead Inc., which lead into his work in film.
His first major foray into cinema was on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. For his next film, he would craft a vision of 2019 Los Angeles for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford. It would become one of his finest achievements.
“For a city in 2019, which isn’t that far from now, I used the model of Western cities like New York or Chicago that were laid out after the invention of mass transit and automobiles, with grids and linear transport,” he told Curbed in 2015 of Blade Runner, as noted by the BBC.
“I thought, we’re at 2,500 feet now, let’s boost it to 3,000 feet, and then pretend the city has an upper city and lower city. The street level becomes the basement, and decent people just don’t want to go there.”
“In my mind, all the tall buildings have a sky lobby, and nobody goes below the 30th floor, and that’s the way life would be organized,” he added.