Last evening, the ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver chapter  celebrated its fifth birthday with a presentation given by world-renowned visual artist Syd Mead , which was followed by a special screening of BladeRunner: The Final Cut, a movie which features many aspects of Mr. Mead’s fantastical work.
Mr. Mead began his presentation by letting us know how much he likes Vancouver, and noted how much the city had changed since his last visit, which was during Expo ’86. He then went on to cover the various points of fantasy artwork – the why, where, and how of what we humans like about the fantasy genre. In simple terms, fantasy artwork simply takes familiar parametres and translates them into a new experience, pulling the viewer into a new world of possibilities.
Transportation is Mr. Mead’s favourite subject when it comes to fantasy artwork, and easily fits in with his theory of how we will get to this new fantasy land. We were treated to several examples of how Mr. Mead develops his incredible scenes, often starting with a real-life photograph and concept, then taking that idea through many steps to become a somewhat familiar but futuristic location or event. Seeing his artwork on a large screen, I realized that the more you look at one of his pieces, the more detail you see. What at first looked like just a simple texture background becomes a building or crowd of people.
When asked how he came up with the designs for his artwork, Mr. Mead shared that he initially views every scenario and concept as a problem to be solved, and his finished product is the solution to the problem – or his inspiration. He also suggested that it is important for fantasy artists to keep up to date on what is going on in the field of experimental science, as the field is rife with ideas just waiting to be given a visual voice.
Syd Mead’s entire presentation and incredible sense of humour added up to one of the best seminar events I’ve attended so far this year. If any of our readers should ever have the chance to attend a seminar given by Mr. Mead, I highly recommend that attendance is mandatory.
Photo by Scott White, Article by Tami Quiring