Syd Mead, concept artist behind 'Blade Runner' and 'Tron,' dies at 86

He died of complications from lymphoma.

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Mariella Moon
December 31st, 2019
Jason Carter Rinaldi via Getty Images
Jason Carter Rinaldi via Getty Images

Futurist and artist Syd Mead has passed away at 86 due to complications from lymphoma. Even if you don't know his name, you've probably felt his impact on Hollywood, especially on the science fiction genre. Mead designed Blade Runner's world and technologies by serving as Ridley Scott's concept artist, and he conjured up the lightcycle for Tron, among other fictional vehicles and gadgets. His ideas of the future also helped shape other sci-fi films' universe, including Elysium and Tomorrowland.

Mead's background in industrial design may have helped him think up advanced technologies that are still believable. Before he created concepts of futuristic worlds, he worked on designs for Ford and illustrated catalogues for companies like United States Steel. He also designed products for Philips and drafted architectural renderings for Intercontinental Hotels and other firms.

When Art Directors Guild honored him in November, the organization's president, Nelson Coates, called him "one of the most influential concept artists and industrial designers of our time." He'd inspired people from various industries, after all, and he even once told Curbed that architects "go bonkers" for Blade Runner.

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