Remembering Syd Mead (1933-2019)

Legendary Visual Futurist, concept artist and designer Syd Mead has passed away at the age of 86. Renown for his illustrations and work on movies such as Blade Runner and Tron, he is a legend in the design community.

Syd Mead can be considered the very first concept designer and artist. His visionary concepts, brought to life through an unmatched craft and an instantly recognizable style, come from an era when this type of artwork was completely unheard of.

Throughout the years he has reached a legendary status among all concept and industrial designers: his modern yet grounded-in-reality style; the simple, elegant lines and harmonious proportions of his creations; the colorful, detailed environments surrounding each design; the refined gouache painting technique – realistic yet with a delightful artistic touch; all these elements create a unique combination, the ultimate concept designer’s dream.

Another unique characteristic of Syd Mead’s work was the optimism infused in his visions of the future, which makes it even more remarkable the fact that his images are so memorable, as it’s much easier to have a strong impact using dramatic, dark tones rather than peaceful, colorful scenes.

His concept for US Steels provided the main inspiration for Elysium

This optimism was probably one of the driving factor of his ability to envision a future we’d love to live in.

The AT-ATs walkers featured in “The Empire strikes back” were inspired by one of Syd Mead’s illustrations for US Steel (read more in this article by

Yet, it is quite ironic that the work he is universally known for is associated with the dystopian world of Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron, which speaks for his genius and the universal value of his work.

The artwork created for Blade Runner – initially done only to provide a context for the vehicle designs – ended up being the main basis for the look of the entire movie

His body of work, as well as his more recent lectures and training courses, have inspired at least two generations of designers, including some of the most prominent designers of today, and he represents one of the few cases – if not the only – where a brand new definition was coined – Visual Futurist.

The iconic, military-looking design of the Sulaco spaceship created for Aliens

The Light Cycle for the original TRON movie


As a personal note, no designer or artist has affected me as deeply as Syd Mead: he was – and will be – a constant point of reference, and since his passing a few days ago I’m coming to realize more and more how much of my personal aesthetic culture has been affected by him in one form of another.

His legacy lives on not only through his works as well as all the lectures, interviews and speeches that we are fortunate to have inherited: his vision of the future has become engrained in our culture and I think one day we’ll really discover what a major influence he has had on our reality – and our future.


Thank You – Rest in Peace, Syd


You can check his biography on the official website and a more recent story on ArtStation.

Below we report some of his interviews:


Syd Mead interview on Hour 25 – March 30th, 1984


The Real Blade Runner: A Conversation with Futurist Syd Mead – Autoline This Week 1732


Hackaday Superconference 2017 Keynote – Syd Mead : The Future is Now


VISUAL FUTURIST: the art & life of syd mead (REMASTERED)

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