Artist Ralph McQuarrie passed away this weekend.
I was raised on his work. Well to clarify, I raised myself on it.
I would seek it out. His imagery always fired my imagination, and now he’s gone.
His gift to my imagination, however, lives on.
I never knew the man, so I can’t speak to that, but I know his art, and I will always treasure it.
I remember leafing through my Return of the Jedi official movie magazine (man do I remember that summer and all the excitement that movie caused in me), and my Art of Star Wars and Art of The Empire Strikes Back (both of them bought when I was finally living on my own, and my parents couldn’t tell me such books were a waste of money. I don’t blame them, they just didn’t get it.).
I could lose myself in those paintings for hours, just imagining the adventures, I would hum the themes over and over again, I would gaze at the images he had created. He was one of my first real introductions to the world behind film. It was through his paintings that I learned how Star Wars had been made, and learning how movies were made became just as interesting to me as the stories on the screen. What goes on before and behind the camera is just as important to me as what goes on in front of it.
Everyone gets caught up in the amazing work he did for Star Wars, and I admit, it’s unparalleled.
But he also did early production art for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, when it was still just being toyed with as a television series – Star Trek: Phase II.
He also did a number of production paintings for another iconic sci-fi series, the original Battlestar Galactica.
His impact on the look of Star Wars is what he will be remembered most prominently for. He helped create the look of the worlds, ships and environments that became such a large part of not only my childhood, but my entire life.
He worked hand in hand with directors, and storytellers to help bring their visions to life, giving them a look into worlds that until then, had only existed in their minds. It was his art that helped get Star Wars sold to Fox in the first place!
I never got a chance to know the man, but I will continue to remember him through his art.
Rest in peace Mr. McQuarrie, and thank you for filling my imagination the way you did.