My Visual Inspirations

So this post will be less formal and more rambling when compared to my classwork ones. I’m sitting here nursing a coffee and thinking about the visual inspiration that led me here. Nothing cutting edge or even game related, just people and artwork that caught my interest as a child and continued to shape my decision to aspire to a creative career. I know it isn’t course related but this blog is still mine and a showcase of my work and what makes me tick, so I feel it’s fitting

Naturally when you’re young you don’t care or pay attention to who makes all the pretty artwork, something inside just says this fascinates me or it doesn’t. Only as an adult do you look back to put all the puzzle pieces together and realise you were only ever looking at a slim handful of concept artists. So its safe to say what makes me tick came from a select few movies.

There are a small number of artists I could bring up and quickly chat about, maybe I’ll break this post up into two and do another in future covering some others. However for now I’d like to bring to your attention Syd Mead & Jean Giraud (otherwise known by Moebius).

Before I start rattling on, I’m not out break down or analyse any of their work and make this an informative lesson. Just think of this as you getting to know me.

Syd Mead – The Futurist

Syd originally started at Ford Motors in the 50s, sketching out concept cars and from there moved into architectural rendering up until the mid 70s when he moved to California. A lot of this early work had been influenced by a brief style known as populuxe, a mesh of two words popular and luxury. It was a pseudo sci-fi consumerist movement, glorifying sleek conceptual products of the future and always utopian.

Once in California he turned his skills to concept art for movie studios, I won’t give a whole list but focus on the work that means something to me. To me his famous early work would be for Blade Runner, Tron and the spacecraft in Aliens. Need I say more? He turned an already well established career of utopian futures on their head and became the 80s master of dystopia. His style for Blade Runner single handedly formed the visual aesthetic for what would became known as the genre of cyberpunk. Which would come back to him later in his career when the modern literary master of cyberpunk William Gibson would come to him for concept art for the movie Johnny Mnemonic.

Japan took to the dystopian themes contained within cyberpunk like moths to a flame and influenced nearly a decade of anime in the style, which would go to some lengths to explain why to date Syd is the only foreigner to have ever designed for anime icon Gundam in it’s thirty seven year history.

He recently returned to industry at age 80, creating artwork for the movie Elysium and Tomorrowland. I’ll leave you with a selection of his work.

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I wish I could explain the exact reasoning why even as a young child I was so drawn to his dystopian works but I can’t. That dirty grounded sci-fi aesthetic oozes into everything I touch. Childhood wonder turned into adult wonder and it never became any less magic for me, and that will always be my explanation, MAGIC.

Jean Giraud (Moebius)

Much like Syd, you may not know Jean by name but as soon as I start talking about his body of work you’ll know him instantly.

Once Jean’s military service was over he went straight into drawing and inking French comics, initially influenced by Westerns and the Wild West as a genre and would continue making these until the 80s. However we’re here to talk sci-fi as always and this is where his pseudonym comes in as he used it for all things sci-fi. He started off his brush with sci-fi in 63′ when he began creating the comic Azrach, once completed the name would go unused for ten years until him and two other artists started the French comic Metal Hurlant. Known to the English world as Heavy Metal magazine.

Feel free to look up just how influential that magazine ended up becoming (hint it had a movie based on it in 1981 and again in 2000). For now I’m going to fast forward to his movie work. Jean overlapped with Syd on a number of occasions, he worked on Alien alongside Ridley Scott and the legendary Swiss artist H.R Giger (I’ve been to his house turned museum in Gruyere). This aesthetic would bleed over into Syd’s work on Aliens, they also worked together on the art for Tron. Jean’s other notable movie work was on projects for The Abyss, an abandoned adaption of Dune where he worked alongside Giger again and with a little bit of controversy Luc Besson’s Fifth Element.

There was a brief tussle between Luc Besson and Jean’s comic publisher as they accused him of stealing the outline for that movie from Jean’s famous work in Heavy Metal ‘The Incal’. This was quickly thrown out of court as Jean was already working for Besson doing concepts for the movie, he mostly deemed it a compliment that Besson wished to use parts of his material.

Again here is some of Jean’s material to take a look at.

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So there you have it, a little bit of insight into the things that grabbed my attention as a child and made me want to chase a creative career. These guys influenced the way I viewed art growing up and still do to this day. Here’s to these two great masters of sci-fi!

I may post a tribute to H.R Giger next so I can show off some photos from around his museum!

As a little side note just because it makes me chuckle, I actually got a sub-par grade in GCSE Art (back in 2002), I’d based so much of my project of Jean’s fantasy landscapes and I swear my teacher hated anything that wasn’t a bowl of fruit or life drawing. Now fourteen years later I’m sitting here going over it all again, let’s hope this time we can all appreciate a modern master! G’night everyone!



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