Visual Futurist and Conceptual Artist

Syd Mead is an acclaimed visual futurist and conceptual artist whose storied career spans almost six decades.  He was recognized by the Visual Effects Society’s Board of Directors as the recipient of its Visionary Award at the 14th Annual VES Awards in 2016, honored for his unique ability to create unforgettable images and advance storytelling through his futuristic design aesthetic. Mead attributes success in an astonishing range of creative activities to the premise that imagination and the idea, supersedes technique.  “There are more people in the world who make things than there are people who think of things to make.”

Mead’s career began as he created characters and backgrounds for animated cinema intermission trailers just out of high school. After serving in the U.S. Army and receiving his education at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Studio recruited Mead.  After Ford, he took on high-profile design assignments for blue chip companies including U.S. Steel, Philips Electronics and Intercontinental Hotels. 

In 1979, Mead’s projects expanded to designing for Hollywood as he began to work with most major studios. His cinema entrée was legendary, starting with the creation of the V’ger entity for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by two cult classics - Bladerunner and Tron. Mead’s designs for robots, vehicles and other-worldly environments have also been featured in films including 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Time Cop, Johnny Mnemonic, Mission Impossible-3 and Elysium.  With transportation design as his first love, Mead seldom misses an opportunity to provide his unique blend of futurism and believability to designing vehicles – from concept cars, cruise ships and hypervans to interplanetary cinematic spacecrafts that transport audiences to new worlds.

In the 1980’s, Mead established close working relationships with a number of major Japanese companies including Sony, Minolta, Dentsu, Dyflex, Tiger, Seibu, Mitsukoshi, Bandai, NHK and Honda as well as contributing to Japanese film projects, Yamato 2520 and Solar Crisis. In the 1990s, he supplied designs for all eight robot characters in the Turn A Gundam mobile suit series and TV show.

Extensive collections of Mead’s work have been exhibited worldwide, drawing record crowds. In 1993, a digital gallery of his art became one of the first CD ROMs released in Japan and in 2004 he cooperated with the Gnomon School of Visual Effects to produce a 4-volume, “How To” DVD series entitled, Techniques of Syd Mead, which continues to be sought after by designers around the world. A documentary of his career, Visual Futurist, was released in 2007 and Mead continues an active schedule of one-man shows and presentations.

Speaker years: 
2017