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RIP Ralph McQuarrie

I can’t tell you the exact date and time when I first saw Star Wars or for that matter how many times I’ve watched each of the films since, but it’s a lot and probably bordering on the unhealthy!

What I can tell you is that Star Wars and it’s sequels, has probably been the single most influential thing on my path to becoming a designer. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that my Parents, both natural and graphical (you know who you are) friends, art, music, college & university etc, didn’t have some large role to play. But for as long as I can remember Star Wars has always been there.

Of course as a young wide eyed little 70’s wannabe Jedi it was the excitement of the movie that captured my heart first. But as time goes by that can fade, as it has done for many of my friends, now just that film we used to be crazy about when we were kids. I’m happy to say they’ve never faded in my eyes and if anything those films, plus a few others I’m keen to mention, keep getting brighter. But why?

Put simply amazingly detailed aesthetics, and the genius that is Ralph McQuarrie, who sadly passed away this weekend. “Who” I hear you ask? Well you can be forgiven for asking that question as he’s the unsung hero behind some the greatest designs ever to be captured on film. Ralph McQuarrie role call reads like the ultimate Sci-fi/Fantasy top 10 with the likes of Star Wars, ET, Close Encounters, Batteries Not Included, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Battle Star Galactica, all of which I love.

Above is Ralph’s concept drawing for the now iconic Storm Trooper Helmet and below is probably his most recognisable creation Darth Vader.

It’s so easy to overlook just how much Ralph MacQuarrie has contributed to design and I for one can’t imagine a world without his work in it. I think his life’s work is best summed up on his website…

“His influence on design will be felt forever. There’s no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say… ‘that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted’.”

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