Here are some highlights of the visual futurist’s fireside chat…
The difference between working on cars and movies
The auto industry was easier. In the movies, you’ve got to make everyone in the audience know the purpose of the prop you’ve designed in one instance, or you disrupt the flow of the film.
On being a visual futurist
The tools will change, but what’s most valuable is the idea. Science fiction is reality ahead of schedule. If it’s a really good idea, then eventually it’ll come true.
On his current US art exhibition
We’d like for it to come to Europe, starting with London. You’ll probably never see 50 pieces of highly detailed gouache in one place ever again! The technique is just not used. It’s laborious to learn.
Recent film work
I worked with Neill Blomkamp on Elysium, on concepts for the Torus spaceship. I’d done this before, years ago for National Geographic. An article on living in space. And that inspired Neill to speak to me.
On inventing the smart car
I remember doing tiny car designs for decades, for Playboy and Philips. I’d never get in one on a freeway. I like a car with a meter and a half in front of me at least.
Ralph McQuarrie had an amazing ability to show scale. He was a delightful man, very softly spoken. He’s gone, and the tragic aspect was that he had Parkinson’s towards the end of his life and he couldn’t draw. But for years he would do a large watercolour or gouaches every year and cut them into pieces and you’d get a piece of this overall painting. It was wonderful!