Legendary visual futurist and Art Center alumnus Syd Mead stopped by Art Center’s Ahmanson Auditorium last week as part of the Design Studio Press Spring Lecture Series.
The always entertaining Mead delivered a presentation to a packed house whose attendees included The Lord of the Rings visual effects director Paul Lasaine, Megamind concept artist Samuel Michlap and Tron: Legacy vehicle designer Daniel Simon.
Mead’s lecture traversed the history of the automobile (“My total contribution to Americana automobilia is the taillight of the Ford Falcoln Futura.”), the future of transportation (“Antigravity is the answer for designers who don’t like to draw wheels.”) and his favorite color (“Cherenkov radiation blue, a fascinating optical phenomenon.”).
He also touched on Blade Runner, his early work for Ford and U.S. Steel, his latest book Sentury II and why the future is so difficult to predict.
Here are some highlights from his presentation.
On creative control:
The idea of controlling your creative idea right to the final format? That will never happen. Or rarely. Your ideas will go through a series of committees, compromises and pummels every single time.
On doing things by hand:
I learned how to hand-letter at Art Center, and that was very good training for drawing perfect ellipses. I still use gouache, which is putting paint on cardboard with animal hairs at the end of a stick. I know that’s not very romantic, but it works. All of today’s rendering software and code is made deliberately to mimic the hand-drawn technique.