September 1, 1965 |
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Sean Hargreaves (b. September 1, 1965) is a British production designer.
Early life and education
Sean Hargreaves was born 1 September 1965 in Blackpool, Lancashire, England to an engineer father and artistic mother. At the age of 13 his family moved to the U.S. After attending Sam Houston State University and the University of Houston, in 1986 he was accepted into the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he excelled in the field of industrial design, graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree, and where he is listed as a 'Notable Alumni'.
Hargreaves began his design career at the age of 18, just after graduation from high school, at Visual Engineering in Dallas, Texas. There he participated in the fabrication and design of prototypes for Texas Instruments and IBM.
Following graduation from Art Center College of Design he was hired at General Motors Advanced Concepts Center in Newbury Park California where he designed concept cars. It was here that he learned the importance of teamwork, deadlines, and attention to detail. After 3 years his interest in car design wavered, and he cast his eyes to the entertainment industry where one of his school colleagues, Jacques Rey, was working on the James Cameron film Terminator 2. Rey helped with contacts and before long Hargreaves was working as a storyboard artist in commercials. His first job in film came in 1991 for the film Candyman. Following that he was hired as a concept artist on the movie The Shadow, starring Alec Baldwin.
In 1992 Hargreaves was hired to go to Paris to design sets, props, and costumes for the film The Fifth Element, working alongside famed fantasy artist Jean Moebius Giraud, and directed by Luc Besson. It was in Paris his knowledge and appreciation of architecture skyrocketed, and has influenced his work ever since. He was to stay there almost a year.
During his time in Paris, Hargreaves developed an almost photorealistic style of illustration using pen and ink, markers, and paint that was relatively quick, and worked perfectly in the fast pace of the entertainment industry, during a time when markers were only used for very fast sketches. His style of high detail, design, and lighting, thereby showing directors and producers and production designers exactly what the sets would look like and how they were lit, became well known and subsequently he was in high demand in the entertainment industry.
Following his return to the U.S. Hargreaves worked on a number of large films by well known directors, Se7en with David Fincher, Batman Forever with Joel Schumacher, Heat with Michael Mann, The Rock with Michael Bay, Crimson Tide with Tony Scott, and Jurassic Park: The Lost World with Steven Spielberg are but a few.
In 1996 He approached production designer Tom Foden, who had hired him to illustrate sets for the Michael Jackson video 'Scream', and asked him if he could art direct for him. A few weeks later he was Fodens art director on the Mark Romanek directed Nine Inch Nails video, 'Perfect Drug'.
In 1998 he was hired at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (I.L.M.) as he was offered the job to production design a series of huge commercials for First Union Bank directed by Steve Beck, utilizing all I.L.M. had to offer in the way of visual effects. He was to work with I.L.M. for 3 years and has used the visual effects knowledge he gained there on many subsequent projects.
In 2000, Steve Beck offered him the production design job for his first film, Thirteen Ghosts. A film about a wealthy collector played by F. Murray Abraham, who built a three level glass house, that enclosed his collection of ghosts. The house was a design marvel and accorded Hargreaves many accolades from his peers. F. Murray Abraham was passionate in noting Hargreaves achievements in the construction of the glass house: "I thought it was a magic place! I was attached to it and I think it was great! I've never seen a set like that my whole life." In 2004 Hargreaves production designed the film Neverwas for first time director Joshua Michael Stern, that starred Ian McKellen, Brittany Murphy, William Hurt, Aaron Eckhart and others.
Hargreaves is known for a design approach that focuses on the original:
"I tend to eschew 'refined technologies' in favor of original design. I'll work tirelessly on a problem that hasn't been seen before until I solve it, or until I find it cannot be solved. I use new technologies to aid me in my work, in solving original design problems, and also in uncovering new ideas, which inevitably lead to new problems to be solved."
Of the few production designers that actually illustrate their own designs, Hargreaves was one of the first to utilize Photoshop, and the first to design hands-on using 3D software, a route he took because of his demands for accuracy in presenting his designs.
In 2011 the book, PLACES, showcasing Hargreaves personal designs was published worldwide.
Awards and honors
Hargreaves has twice won the AICP-Association of Independent Commercial Producers- award for production design for commercials. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has also been nominated three times for the Art Directors Guild award for Excellence in Production Design. His work was also featured in the exhibition 'Pixar: 20 Years of Animation' at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and is also featured in the books 'Places', 'Concept Design 2,' 'The Making of Jurassic Park: The Lost World,' 'Cinefex' and others. He has also been featured in 3D Artist magazine, as well as provided a tutorial. In 2012 he gave a presentation of his designs for Lightwave 3D at the world famous SIGGRAPH Computer and Technology Convention in Los Angeles. Also in 2012 he was invited by Sir Jonathan Ive of Apple Computer to give a lecture on his designs for the Apple Design team at their headquarters in Cupertino, California.
Lectures: Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Apple Design, Cupertino, California. National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, Beijing, China. Beijing University of Technology, Beijing, China.