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Conceptual artist Syd Mead to get VES Visionary Award

The Visual Effects Society (VES), has named visual futurist and conceptual artist Syd Mead as the next recipient of its Visionary Award in recognition of his contributions to visual arts and filmed entertainment. Mead designed vehicles and robots for many classic sci-fi films, including Tron. The award will be presented at the 14th Annual VES Awards on February 2, 2016.

The VES Visionary Award, voted on by the VES board of directors, recognizes an individual who has “uniquely and consistently employed the art and science of visual effects to foster imagination and ignite future discoveries by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work.”

Mead’s career, which spans almost six decades, began as he created characters and backgrounds for animated cinema intermission trailers after he graduated high school. After serving in the US Army and receiving his education at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, Mead was recruited by Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Studio. After Ford, he took on high-profile design assignments for companies including US Steel, Philips and InterContinental Hotels.

In 1979, Mead’s projects expanded to designing for Hollywood as he began to work with most major studios. His started with the creation of the V’ger entity for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by two cult classics, Bladerunner and Tron. Mead’s designs for robots, vehicles and other-worldly environments have also been featured in films including 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Time Cop, Johnny Mnemonic, Mission Impossible III and Elysium.

In the 1980’s, Mead established close working relationships with a number of major Japanese companies including Sony, Minolta, Dentsu, Dyflex, Tiger, Seibu, Mitsukoshi, Bandai, NHK and Honda as well as contributing to Japanese film projects, Yamato 2520 and Solar Crisis. In the 1990s, he supplied designs for all eight robot characters in the Turn A Gundam mobile suit series and TV show.

“Syd is truly a defining creative force in the world of visual arts,” said Mike Chambers, VES board chair. “He has a rare ability to create fiercely inventive images, both iconic and sublime, and he has contributed to some of our most unforgettable cinematic experiences. Syd’s legendary contribution to the field of design, and the inspiration he has provided for generations of visual effects artists is immense.”

Previous winners of the VES Visionary Award have been Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams.

Photo: Jenny Risher