Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Syd Mead (update)

Syd MeadWhen I first wrote about futurist, concept artist and industrial designer extraordinaire Syd Mead back in November of 2005, I expressed my disappointment with the lack of a gallery on his official site. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed.

In the intervening year and a half, the official site has changed little, except to add an annoyingly slow Flash introduction; and still, to my utter disbelief, offers no real gallery of Syd Mead’s terrific art, and therefore provides no reason why someone should care about who Syd Mead is, or why they should be on the site unless they already know who Syd mead is. (What are they thinking?)

The terrific books that have been published over the years as collections of his work are unfortunately out of print, and the official site says there are no plans to republish any of them (making their lack of an online gallery even more inexplicable). You may be able to find some of them used if you search Amazon or eBay.

The Bookstore on the site, though it no longer functions as a store, does contain some small images of work from the books. If you click on any of the book titles, it comes up in a little pop-up window. The rest of the site has some scattered small images from Christmas cards and snowboards, but offers no real opportunity to view his paintings in a meaningful way.

Fortunately, there are other resources on the web that I can point you to to give you some idea of how terrific his work is, and give you at least a hint as to his importance in the ranks of influential concept artists and futurist illustrators.

There is a reasonably good gallery on the Gnomon Workshop site, and there are unofficial gallery sites here and here. You can also get an idea from doing a Google image search. You can find an illustrated article on Promotex and an interview on Anime.com.

Mead set the standards for modern futuristic design and influenced two generations of concept artists and designers.

Once you’ve gotten a taste of his groundbreaking visionary art, you may have an idea of why the one significant recent addition to the official site is of interest. A new documentary had become available about the work and influence of Syd Mead, as told in interviews with Mead and a number of the people who worked closely with him on some of his most influential projects. The film is called VISUAL FUTURIST: The Art & Life of Syd Mead and is available through the official site.

Also, the instructional DVDs that were offered by the Gnomon Workshop, where Mead has been an instructor, are still available through both the Syd Mead site and the Gnomon site.

 

13 thoughts on “Syd Mead (update)

  1. Dawid Michalczyk

    You are right on with the lack of Mead’s art on the net and especially on his own site. He seems to be very business savvy, yet he neglets to make himself more visible on the net.

    I guess he sees no reason to do that and relies exclusively on his fame and extensive network of contacts. A pity for the new generation of designers/artist’s as his work is among the best of the best.

  2. Charley Parker Post author

    It’s particularly disappointing that the books aren’t being kept in print, some of them are just amazing.

    I also have to wonder why they don’t offer prints of posters of his images. I’m fortunate to have a copy of a poster size book called “Syd Mead: Techno Fantasy Art” that I think was issued in the 70’s, and his work looks great printed at a large scale.

  3. DeepBlue42

    It is ironic that a man who’s work has/is touted as the visionist for a technological future seems so antiquated in his embracing of the web to promote or simply endear himself to future generations of hopeful young designers.

    Some years ago I wanted to do a presentation for Syd Mead at my design school and was confounded that many people students and faculty alike never heard of him, this man who had done design work on many projects and movies many of us had seen. What was more I found it exceedingly difficult to find examples of his work that didn’t require a significant financial investment.

    Yet his work in publications remains inaccessible to the design or art layman; as just one example, his most recent book “Sentury”, now out of print, is currently fetching over $200 dollars US. He seems to have fallen into a elitist society of artists that seems to believe that to know his work should be reserved for those that “deserve” it . Whatta shame….

  4. Charley Parker Post author

    I agree, the web presence is not what it should be, and the books should be reprinted in mass market editions. Even though it’s now the “future” Mead was envisioning in his early work, his designs still look great.

  5. van butenschoen

    For those of you who are interested in Syd Mead posters, there are six available on the AWN (animation world network) website. My favorite is The 200th Running of the Kentucky Derby, but all are excellent examples of his work. I was very suprised that all six are still available. They range in price from $25.00 to $85.00 (The Derby). No, I’m not an AWN employee, just a big fan of Mead’s work. I have every one of his books plus other items (except for Kronolog, for $$$$ reasons)

    Check out these posters!

  6. Eric

    To all my fellow Syd Mead admirers, check out my site as I am selling off 4 of my large original Mead prints that I have double. Once gone, they won’t show up any time soon again I guess.

  7. Bryan

    I have his book “Sentinel” it was published sometime in 1980-1984 time frame. It’s a large 17″ X 14″ soft cover, history of all his art up to that point. Printed in full color and visually stimulating. It’s like a large coffee table book. Sorry, it’s not for sale, although I’m sure it would command a very high price on the Web. Too bad he has not published these pictures on his web site. I too am disappointed, but I can only imagine this is because these pictures are his private domain and with the Web being so diverse these days, any attempt by him or his family to ‘Publish’ his work would lessen the impact and his ability to sell his future work. Maybe, someday he will put it all on the web, or his family might. I won’t infringe on his rights unless I was given permission. So, for the time being, we are all stuck with what is released on the various websites. Except me of course.

  8. van butenschoen

    When I looked at the Amazon.com site under Syd Mead, as I do about twice a week, I noticed that they are offering a pre-order on a new book, Sentury 2. According to the comments, it’s going to cover the decade of Syd Mead’s work since his last book, Sentury.

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