Illustrator Ralph McQuarrie passed away yesterday at the age of 82. He was a designer and illustrator who helped define the look of many of the biggest films of the 1970s and 80s . E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica. He had a hand in all of them.
But the work he will probably be best remembered for were the concept paintings he did for Star Wars.
I remember having a few pieces of his work on the Star Wars cards I collected as a kid. I mean, at the time I didn’t know who he was or the importance of his art, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that I was looking through an online gallery of McQuarrie’s work that I realized where all those painted cards came from.
If you go to his official homepage or to the memorial page at starwars.com, you can see more of his work. It’s amazing stuff. My favourites are the ones that were done before the first film was even completed. It’s cool to see the Star Wars that could have been. As much as I love the final production design of that movie (really, it’s the one element of the film to stand up really well over time), I can’t help but think about how much cooler it would have been had Lucas hewed even closer to McQuarrie’s vision.