Friday, October 20, 2006

Syd Mead at the Society

Syd Mead gave a wonderful lecture at the Society last night. (A great event made even better for the fact that I didn't have to do anything for it!)

Mead is a very relaxed and eloquent speaker. He started off with a few childhood drawings. His love of cars was evident back when he was in single digits. Out of college, he worked for Ford designing speculative cars. Then he moved on to show some amazingly opulent designs that he created for various Middle Eastern kings' airplanes, luxury yachts, etc. My favorite part of the lecture, of course, was him taking us through the Bladerunner world, including a bunch of scenes that never made it into the film. Unfortunately he did not go into any of the other films he worked on. He did show a lot of personal work -- scenarios with future cars, moving villages, luxury space travel.

He mostly showed his gouache paintings, but he did show some very complicated line drawings -- explosions of solid black lines.
(I'm kicking myself for not getting a shot of one.) It was amazing to then see the color final and how much sense he could make of that drawing. He often used the word "scenario", he said his leg-up in the concept design world was that he is able to illustrate the design problem within a scene. He kept repeating that he "layers the weird on top of the familiar to make the scenarios believable." This is a good lesson for some younger artists...I often see creatures or ships that are so estranged from anything familiar that's it's hard to relate to it. It was fun to hear all the narratives that Mead had for each element of his paintings....he clearly "lives" in the paintings while he is doing them. As he said, no one need be able to extrapolate all of that from the work, but somehow the thoughtfulness comes through.

A great evening...A great crowd, clearly an adoring crowd. Many of the people there grew up on his vision of the future through the movies he worked on. I heard a few working artists in attendance say how depressed they now are...depressed with a smile.