Today would have been the 85th birthday of the legendary conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie. The overall look and feel of the Star Wars Saga we have all grown to love over the years was shaped in large part by the vision and exceptional talent of this fine artist. Without a doubt, Star Wars fans owe him a debt of gratitude. Mr. McQuarrie's concepts for key characters and locations in that galaxy far, far away were instrumental in convincing studio executives, cast, and crew that Star Wars had the potential to be something truly special.
“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.' ” ~George Lucas
Sadly, we lost Ralph McQuarrie on March 3, 2012. The world became a little darker, but the light of this great artist shines on through the incredible body of work he left behind.
On a personal note, I'm fortunate enough to own a couple limited edition prints – accompanied by 35mm film cells from the corresponding chapter in the Saga – both hand-signed and numbered by Ralph McQuarrie himself (one was also hand-signed by Mark Hamill).
This one is titled “Rebel Patrol of Echo Base” from The Empire Strikes Back – number 972/2500. (Note: Mark Hamill '97!)
This one is titled “Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader Duel,” also from The Empire Strikes Back – number 794/2500.
Both framed prints are displayed proudly, and prominently, in my living room. 🙂
Star Wars Episode VII – currently being filmed and scheduled for release on December 18, 2015 – will borrow from Mr. McQuarrie's conceptual designs, as will the upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, slated to premiere in October on Disney XD.
See? The genius lives on!
There will soon be a Kickstarter campaign for The Art of Ralph McQuarrie: ARCHIVES – a collection of his non-Star Wars work. You can find out more via the Official Ralph McQuarrie Facebook page, or you can follow along on Twitter @RMcQArchives.
To purchase prints by Ralph McQuarrie, please visit Dreams and Visions Press.
Happy Birthday Ralph McQuarrie! You are remembered fondly on this day, and always!
**UPDATE** The Kickstarter campaign is now live!Powered by Sidelines