Film artist Syd Mead
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Credit: David X Prutting/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Syd Mead, legendary Blade Runner artist and sci-fi visionary, dies at 86

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Dec 30, 2019

Syd Mead, a towering name in the world of science fiction visuals renowned for his work on Blade Runner and a host of other hugely influential films, has passed away at the age of 86.

Longtime partner and collaborator Roger Servick, manager of business affairs for Syd Mead Inc., confirmed to SYFY WIRE that Mead passed away in Pasadena, California, today after a prolonged period of declining health. 

“Syd Mead passed away this morning at 4:30 AM PST here in Pasadena, CA,” Servick told SYFY WIRE via email. “He had been in failing health for quite some time due to lymphoma cancer and had been undergoing treatment this past year, with City of Hope in Durate, CA.”   

An artist whose work helped shape films like Aliens, Star Trek, Tron, and more, Mead was set to be honored for his career achievements with the Art Directors Guild's William Cameron Menzies Award at the Guild’s upcoming annual awards event in February.

A self-described "visual futurist" (a term he created while working on Ridley Scott's Blade Runner), Mead's gift for design was broad and far-ranging, encompassing everything from architectural renderings for the real-world built environment to fantasical concepts for places he created — and shared — that first existed only in his own mind.

Friends and fans from across the sci-fi spectrum poured out their best memories on social media, with Mead’s undeniable influence on their lifelong appreciation of the genre's limitless imaginative possibilities evident across the board:

Born in 1933 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mead worked as a designer in the automotive industry after serving in the U.S. Army in the 1950s. He founded his own design company, Syd Mead, Inc. in 1970, leading to work later in the decade on what became a steady roster of visually arresting futuristic movies that now define science fiction: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1978), Blade Runner (1982), Tron (1982), Short Circuit (1986), Aliens (1986), Timecop (1994), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Mission: Impossible III (2006), Elysium (2013), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), for which he again provided the futurescape design to bring Phillip K. Dick’s dystopian vision of a fallen Los Angeles of the future to life. 

Servick said that arrangements for a private "Celebration of Life" service for Mead are pending in Pasadena.

(With reporting by Jeff Spry)

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