Sydney Jay Mead was born in St. Paul Minnesota, July 18th, 1933 but spent only a few years there before moving to what would be the second of many homes throughout the western United States prior to graduating from High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1951. After serving a three-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, Syd Mead continued on to the Art Center School in Los Angeles, (now the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena) where he graduated with great distinction in June of 1959. He was immediately recruited by the Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Studio under the management of Elwood Engle which he left after 2 years in order to accept a variety of assignments to illustrate books and catalogs for large corporate entities such as United State Steel, Celanese, Allis Chalmers and Atlas Cement. In 1970, he launched Syd Mead Inc. in Detroit, Michigan to accommodate the high caliber of offershe received, most notably the PHILIPS ELECTRONICS. As the principal of his newly formed corporation in the 1970’s, Syd Mead spent about a third of his time in Europe primarily to provide designs and illustrations for Philips of Holland. Together with his roster of major American clients, he continues to make his creative mark, internationally. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, Syd Mead, Inc. provided architectural renderings both interior and exterior, for such clients as Intercontinental Hotels, 3D International, Harwood Taylor & Associates, Don Ghia, and Gresham & Smith, to mention a few. His architectural clients have recently expanded to include the New York firm of Philip Koether Architects for which he designed the interior of a Manhattan eatery. Design activity accelerated after the corporate and personal move to California in 1975.
In 1979, projects began to include work with most major studios, on such feature films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by, Blade Runner, TRON, 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Time Cop, Johnny Mnemonic, Mission Impossible-3, and most recently Elysium starring Jodi Foster and Matt Damon, Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Beginning in 1983, Syd began to develop close working relationships with a number of major Japanese corporate clients, including; Sony, Minolta, Dentsu, Dyflex, Tiger, Seibu, Mitsukoshi, Bandai, NHK and Honda as well as contributing to two Japanese film projects, The New Yamato and Crises 2050. In the 1990s’, Syd supplied designs for two Japanese toy icons, “The New Yamato” and all eight robot characters in the new Turn-A Gundam mobile suit series which were also seen as characters in Television shows.
With transportation design as his first love, Syd Mead seldom misses an opportunity to provide his unique blend of futurism and believability to those projects consisting of a vehicle that travels from “A” to ‘B”. Whether it be designing solar powered unicycles, show cars, luxury yachts, cruise ships, the interiors of private 747’s, or interplanetary spacecraft, each receives the same attention to detail within a perfectly designed scenario. This combination has become a Syd Mead trademark and has been seen in everything from concept cars for Ford Motor Company to futuristic “Hypervans” which have been the subject of his latest full-color illustrations.
In February 1998, Syd Mead relocated his studio to Pasadena, California, where he continues to be involved in a variety of design projects. He recently completed work on a documentary of his career with director Joaquin Montalvan, “VISUAL FUTURIST”, was released in May of 2007 on DVD and is available through the virtual Oblagon bookstore on the Syd Mead official webpage WWW.SYDMEAD.COM . Mead attributes success in an astonishing range of creative activities to the premise that imagination…the idea supersedes technique. “There are more people in the world who make things than there are people who think of things to make.”