Ralph McQuarrie, the conceptual artist behind the STAR WARS films passed away over the weekend at the age of 82. The artwork he produced for the original STAR WARS movie was featured in a book I used to own in the late 70s titled The Art of STAR WARS. As I remember, it contained hundreds of conceptual illustrations and the entire movie script (which of course I memorized). I referred to that book so often that it eventually fell apart in my hands. He was a true inspiration and visionary.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man. Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.’
“Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists—all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator.”