July 18, 1933 |
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Other names||Sydney Jay Mead|
Sydney Jay Mead, commonly Syd Mead (born July 18, 1933), is a "visual futurist" and concept artist. He is best known for his designs for science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron. Of his work, Mead was once moved to comment: "I've called science fiction 'reality ahead of schedule.'"
Mead was born in Saint Paul Minnesota, July 18, 1933, but spent only a few years there before moving to what would be the second of many homes throughout the western United States prior to graduating from high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1951. After serving a three-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, Syd Mead continued on to the Art Center School in Los Angeles, (now the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena) where he graduated in June 1959. He was recruited by the Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Studio under the management of Elwood Engel. Mead left the studio after two years to accept a variety of assignments to illustrate books and catalogues for large corporate entities such as United States Steel, Celanese, Allis Chalmers and Atlas Cement. In 1970, he launched Syd Mead, Inc. in Detroit, Michigan to accommodate the offers he received, most notably from Philips Electronics. As the principal of his newly formed corporation in the 1970s, Syd Mead spent about a third of his time in Europe, primarily to provide designs and illustrations for Philips of Holland. His work for international clients continues to this day. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Syd Mead, Inc. provided architectural renderings both interior and exterior for such clients as Intercontinental Hotels, 3D International, Harwood Taylor & Associates, Don Ghia, and Gresham & Smith. His architectural clients recently have expanded to include the New York firm of Philip Koether Architects, for which he designed the interior of a Manhattan eatery. Design activity accelerated after the corporate and personal move to California in 1975. In 1979, projects began to include work with most major studios, on such feature films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Timecop, Johnny Mnemonic and Mission: Impossible III. Beginning in 1983, Mead began to develop working relationships with Japanese corporate clients, including Sony, Minolta, Dentsu, Dyflex, Tiger Corporation, Seibu, Mitsukoshi, Bandai, NHK and Honda as well as contributing to Japanese film project Solar Crisis. In the 1990s, Syd supplied designs for two Japanese anime icons, Yamato 2520 and all mobile suits (mecha) in the Turn A Gundam series.
With transportation design as his first love, Syd Mead seldom misses an opportunity to provide his unique blend of futurism and believability to those projects consisting of a vehicle that travels from A to B. Whether it be designing solar powered unicycles, show cars, luxury yachts, cruise ships, or the interiors of private 747s, each receives the same attention to detail within a perfectly designed scenario. This combination has become a Syd Mead trademark and has been seen in everything from concept cars for Ford Motor Company to futuristic “hypervans” which have been the subject of his latest full color illustrations.
Syd Mead continues an active schedule of one-man shows, which started with an invitation to exhibit at Documenta 6, Kassel, West Germany in 1973. His work has since been exhibited in Japan, Italy, California, and Spain. In 1983, in response to an invitation from Chrysler Corporation to be a guest speaker to their design staff, Syd Mead assembled a selection of slides to visually enhance his lecture. The resulting presentation was a resounding success and since has been expanded and enhanced with computer-generated imagery specifically assembled at the requests of such clients as Disney, Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue, Pratt University, the Society of Illustrators and many others both academic and corporate around the world. In March 2010, Syd completed a four-city tour in Australia to capacity audiences at each venue.
Always an advocate of new technologies, Syd Mead has expanded his horizons to include computer illustrations and graphics by mastering a variety of software. Beginning with the official poster of the 1991 Concours d’Elegance “Eyes on the Classics” in Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Mead has attempted to use the latest in available techniques to their best advantage. In 1993, a digital gallery consisting of 50 examples of his art with interface screens designed by him became one of the first CD-ROMs released in Japan in 1992. In 2004 in response to many requests, Mead cooperated with Gnomon School of Visual Effects to produce a 4 volume, “How To” DVD series titled, “TECHNIQUES OF SYD MEAD” which continues to be sought after by designers around the world.
His one-man show, “Cavalcade to the Crimson Castle,” consisting of 114 original paintings and illustrations, enjoyed a three-month showing at the Center for the Arts in San Francisco in the Fall of 1996. The highlight of the show turned out to be Syd’s presentation and lecture, which attracted an audience that exceeded the available capacity of the auditorium. Subsequent personal appearances at schools across the country have attracted record numbers. A touring exhibition of his work is now in the planning stage to mark the 40th anniversary of Syd Mead, Inc.
In February 1998, Syd Mead relocated his studio to Pasadena, California, where he continues to be involved in a variety of design projects. He recently completed work on a documentary of his career with director Joaquin Montalvan. “VISUAL FUTURIST” was released in May 2007 on DVD and is available through the virtual Oblagon bookstore on the Syd Mead official webpage WWW.SYDMEAD.COM. Mead attributes success in an astonishing range of creative activities to the premise that imagination—the idea—supersedes technique.
|“||"There are more people in the world who make things than there are people who think of things to make."||”|
||This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (November 2009)|
Mead has worked on or worked for the following:
- 1959: Ford Motor Company's Advanced Styling Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
- 1960–1961: Ford Motor Company Styling in Detroit, Michigan.
- 1961: Futuristic paintings for a US Steel booklet.
- 1970: Starts own company, Syd Mead, Inc.
- 1976: Book of designs Sentinel published.
- 1978: production illustrator for the film Star Trek: The Motion Picture (V'ger design)
- 1980: Begins his work as "visual futurist " on Blade Runner, designing city backgrounds and vehicles. Also works as a conceptual artist of the electronic world in Tron, designing lightcycles, tanks, solar sailers, and carriers.
- 1983: Works for the film 2010 as visual futurist, designing the Leonov spaceship.
- 1985: Conceptual artist  for Aliens (Sulaco spaceship design). Consultant and designer of the "Johnny 5" robot in the film Short Circuit. Book Oblagon published.
- 1987: Designed space cruisers, fighters, props, and costumes for the Japanese animation Yamato 2520.
- 1988: Conceptual futurist for UFO Cover-Up?: Live!
- 1988: Artist for L.A. 2013 article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
- 1990: Conceptual artist of the future depicted in Solar Crisis
- 1990: Involved in The Spirit of '76
- 1991: Kronolog design book (compilation of Kronovecta, Kronoteco, and Kronovid books) published.
- 1991: Designed backgrounds and spacecraft for the video game Terraforming (1992, PC-Engine DUO, Japan), also known as Syd Mead's Terraforming (1993, TurboDuo, North America).
- Production designer for the future Paris in From Time to Time (1992)
- Futuristic concept consultant for The Fire Next Time (1993) (TV)
- 1993: Designed vehicles for the computer game CyberRace.
- 1993: Kronolog II (Macintosh CD-ROM, developed as AARX) published.
- 1994: Worked as visual consultant on designs for Timecop (guns, time machine). For Strange Days, designed "sim-stim" playback deck and headgear electrodes known as "trodes"
- Visual consultant for Johnny Mnemonic (1995) 
- 1995: Designed vehicles for the Sega Saturn game Gran Chaser aka Cyber Speedway (CyberRace's sequel).
- 1997: Alien conceptual artist on the computer game Wing Commander: Prophecy.
- 1998: Designs mobile suit mecha for the anime Turn A Gundam. Credited as concept designer and mechanical designer.
- 2000: Works on Mission to Mars (conceptual artist) (vehicle design).
- Production designer in Software (2000) 
- 2001: Sentury published.
- 2003: Contributes a new Light Cycle design to the PC game TRON 2.0.
- 2004: Gnomon Workshop educational DVDs.
- 2005: Worked on Mission: Impossible III (Mask Maker machine design ).
- 2008: Worked with Gearbox Software on Aliens: Colonial Marines
- 2008: Was awarded the Grand Master Award in Ballistic Publishing's 'EXPOSÉ 6' Digital Art Annual.
- 2010: Sentury II published.
Documentary films about Mead and his work include
- Visual Futurist: The Art & Life of Syd Mead (2006) 107 min 
- 2019: A Future Imagined (2008) 8 min 
Mead also appears in movie documentaries such as Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner and Mark Kermode's On the Edge of Blade Runner and promotional materials such as the DVD extra for Aliens  and the promotional short film about making of 2010.
- Cathcart, Rebecca (2008-05-22). "Borrowing an idea from Los Angeles, 2091, The New York Times, 22 May 2008". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
- "Syd Mead Futurist: Biography". Sydmead.com. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
- "Syd Mead - IMDb". Uk.imdb.com. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
- "L.A. 2013". Los Angeles Times Magazine. 1988-04-03. Retrieved 2013-03-18.
- "Blu-ray Review: 2010 | High-Def Digest". Bluray.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Syd Mead|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Syd Mead.|
- Official website
- Syd Mead at the Internet Movie Database
- Syd Mead entry at Anime.com
- Blogs in JPN
- Detailed information for the "Syd Mead's Terraforming" video-game at the PC Engine Software Bible
- Entry for Syd Mead's Terraforming at PC-Engine Catalog Project
- Event Recap: "An Audience with Syd Mead", Brisbane, March 2010
- Syd Mead at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Gnomon Workshop DVD's with Syd Mead
- Starlog (USA) May 1982, Iss. 58, pg. 36-39,+61, by: Ed Naha, "Blade Runner's Syd Mead: An Artist With Designs on the Future"
- Starlog (USA) November 1992, Iss. 184, by: Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier, "Detective Future Past"
- The future came true – An Interview with Syd Mead
- Syd Mead's interview at Jabučnjak, July 2009