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Sydney Jay Mead (born July 18, 1933) is an American industrial designer and neofuturistic concept artist, widely known for his designs for science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron. Mead once said, "I've called science fiction 'reality ahead of schedule.'"[1]

Syd Mead
Syd Mead LF.JPG
Sydney Jay Mead

(1933-07-18) July 18, 1933 (age 86)
ResidencePasadena, California, U.S.
EducationArt Center School
OccupationIndustrial designer
Years active1959–present

In 2017, Curbed called Mead "the artist who illustrates the future".[2]


Born on 18 July 1933 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mead graduated from high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1951. After serving a three-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, Mead attended 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 Ford Motor Company's Advanced Styling Studio by Elwood Engel. Mead left Ford after two years to illustrate books and catalogues for companies including United States Steel, Celanese, Allis-Chalmers and Atlas Cement. In 1970, he launched Syd Mead, Inc. in Detroit with clients including Philips Electronics.

With his own company in the 1970s, Mead spent about a third of his time in Europe, primarily to provide designs and illustrations for Philips, and he continues to work for international clients. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Mead and his company provided architectural, renderings both interior and exterior, for clients including Intercontinental Hotels, 3D International,[Harwood Taylor & Associates, Don Ghia, Gresham & Smith and Philip Koether Architects.[citation needed]

In 1979, Mead worked with major studios on the feature films Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Timecop, Johnny Mnemonic and Mission: Impossible III.

Beginning in 1983, Mead developed working relationships with Sony, Minolta, Dentsu, Dyflex, Tiger Corporation, Seibu, Mitsukoshi, Bandai, NHK and Honda and contributed to the Japanese film Solar Crisis. In the 1990s, Mead supplied designs for two Japanese anime icons, Yamato 2520 and Turn A Gundam.

Mead's one-man shows began in 1973 with an exhibit at documenta 6 in Kassel, West Germany. 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 its design staff, Mead assembled a selection of slides to visually enhance his lecture. The resulting presentation was a success and has since been expanded and enhanced with computer-generated imagery specifically assembled at the requests of academic and corporate clients around the world, including Disney, Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue University, Pratt Institute and the Society of Illustrators. In March 2010 Mead completed a four-city tour in Australia.[citation needed]

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 2004, Mead co-operated with Gnomon School of Visual Effects to produce a four-volume "how-to" DVD series titled Techniques of Syd Mead.

Mead was featured in "Cavalcade to the Crimson Castle" with 114 original paintings and illustrations, at the Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 1996. A touring exhibition of his work, titled "PROGRESSIONS", has attracted record numbers in Southern California, Detroit, Grand Rapids, New York, Fort Collins and Myrtle Beach.[citation needed]

Mead is in a relationship with Roger Servick, who became a partner and business manager in 1991. They have established a publishing extension, OBLAGON, Inc., in Hollywood and relocated in 1998 to Pasadena, California, where Mead continues to work.

In May 2007, he completed work on a documentary of his career with the director Joaquin Montalvan entitled Visual Futurist.

Regarding his work, Mead has said, "The idea supersedes technique."[3]

Career historyEdit

Mead has worked on or 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 U.S. Steel booklet
  • 1970: Started 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: Began his work as "visual futurist" on Blade Runner, designing city backgrounds and vehicles (see Spinner)
  • Also worked the same year as a conceptual artist of the electronic world in Tron, designing lightcycles, tanks, solar sailers and carriers
  • 1983: Worked for the film 2010 as visual futurist, designing the Leonov spaceship
  • 1985: Conceptual artist for Aliens (Sulaco spaceship design)
  • 1986: Consultant and designer of the "Johnny 5" robot in the film Short Circuit
  • Also, 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.[4]
  • 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)
  • 1993: Futuristic concept consultant for television series The Fire Next Time
  • 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)
  • Also worked for Strange Days, designed "SimStim" playback deck and headgear electrodes known as "trodes"
  • 1995: Visual consultant for Johnny Mnemonic
  • Designed vehicles for the Sega Saturn game Gran Chaser (known as Cyber Speedway in Western markets) (sequel to CyberRace')
  • 1997: Alien conceptual artist on the computer game Wing Commander: Prophecy
  • 1998: Designs several mobile suit mecha for the anime Turn A Gundam. Credited as main concept designer and mechanical designer
  • 2000: Works on Mission to Mars (conceptual artist) (vehicle design)
  • Production designer in Software
  • 2001: Sentury published
  • 2003: Contributes a new Light Cycle design to the PC game Tron 2.0[5]
  • 2004: Gnomon Workshop educational DVDs
  • 2005: Worked on Mission: Impossible III (Mask Maker machine design)
  • 2008: Worked with Gearbox Software on Aliens: Colonial Marines[6]
  • Also was awarded the Grand Master Award in Ballistic Publishing's 'EXPOSÉ 6' Digital Art Annual
  • 2010: Sentury II published
  • 2013: Concept art for Elysium
  • Concept art for futuristic city and vehicles on Tomorrowland [7]
  • 2016: Created a weapon finish for the game Counter-Strike Global Offensive, the AUG.
  • 2017: Designed the futuristic city of Las Vegas for Blade Runner 2049

About MeadEdit

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 a promotional short film about the making of 2010.[8]


  1. ^ Cathcart, Rebecca (22 May 2008). "Borrowing an idea from Los Angeles". New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Meet Syd Mead, Blade Runner designer and illustrator of our urban future".
  3. ^ a b "Syd Mead Futurist: Biography". Archived from the original on 2010-04-06. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  4. ^ "L.A. 2013". Los Angeles Times Magazine. 3 April 1988. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Woerner, Meredith. "First Look At Tomorrowland Shows The World Of Tomorrow, Disney Style".
  8. ^ "Blu-ray Review: 2010 | High-Def Digest". Retrieved 20 July 2011.

External linksEdit