March 24, 2010

Syd Mead

Running of the Six DRGXX (above)


RMIT page:



Yesterday I attended An audience with Syd Mead at RMIT. We are indeed fortunate to have Syd come all the way Down Under to do a speaking tour. He stops off in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The evening consisted of a one hour presentation by Syd of his work, showing many projects from his long and distinguished career, some Q&A from the audience and then a screening of the 90 minute documentary, VISUAL FUTURIST: The Art & Life of Syd Mead.

Syd not only came across as a passionate artist and fantasy buff but a genuine and humorous man. He had a wonderful way of sharing the stories behind the projects. Always giving little anecdotes that put his stunning designs and artwork into context.

For example, upon showing his designs for a luxurious 747 to the Sultan of Brunei. The Sultan wanted one change. His throne needed to be a window seat!


A few points from last night's presentation and movie.

"If your not getting paid to do it, it's a hobby" Great quote!

When creating art try to see yourself in the 3rd person. Watch yourself create.
Be aware of yourself creating. (very Zen)

The future doesn't begin from a zero point. It always drags the past with it.
(showed an example of a very slick anti gravity carriage type vehicle which is based on the old horse drawn carriage)

Mentioned that Blade Runner was the last Hollywood movie to use glass matte paintings.

Re-designed Battleship Yamato in the 90's. Though the film was never made.

Showed designs he did for The Core (a Peter Hyams project that was abandoned).
His designs are more complex than they need to be. Complexity looks good on the screen.

"He lives for the process. He is more interested in the process than the final image. The end product is just the pearl that comes out of the oyster."
Steven Lisberger on what makes Syd's work successful

He has always put figures in his painting. They not only create scale but they tell a story.

A good description of Syd's work: Remembering something you have not seen before.


I definitely would recommend the documentary, Visual Futurist. An excellent overview of his work. One warning, i am not sure if it was the copy they had but the audio mix on this film is dire.

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