Today marks the 80th birthday of an artist who made filmmaker George Lucas’ vision of an action-packed galaxy full of Jedi, Sith, stormtroopers and droids a reality through his breathtaking pre-production artwork.
The execs at 20th Century Fox were so impressed with McQuarrie’s concept art that they gave Lucas the funding he needed to make Star Wars and change cinema and our vision of space forever.
Artist Ralph McQuarrie tells Star Wars Insider:
“Star Wars included the sort of stylized design I was interested in when I was at Art Center College of Design, which I never had a chance to work on commercially prior to Star Wars. It sort of wound up being mine because I was given the privilege of designing the sets, the costumes and everything else in the paintings I did for George’s presentation to Fox.”
He continues, “George and I didn’t think the stuff that I did would necessarily be in the film, but he wanted me to show him what I thought would be an ideal solution for each scene. And it turned out he took those paintings along when he went to England to talk to the crew who designed the sets and costumes. And there they were, these paintings I’d done, up on the wall. I think they presented a pretty concise image of what the film could look like, so George could say, ‘This is what I want.’ They used quite a lot of what I had done in their designs.”
In addition to the Star Wars trilogy (as well as the Star Wars Holiday Special), McQuarrie also contributed greatly to Star Trek, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Battlestar Galactica, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, among other noted films.
Happy Birthday, Ralph! Thanks for making us all take out our sketchpads and attempt to draw worlds as beautiful as yours.
Read more McQuarrie’s work on Star Wars here:
Ralph McQuarrie on Designing Star Wars
To learn more about the life and work of Ralph McQuarrie, visit Ralphmcquarrie.com.