Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Legendary Futurist and Concept Designer Syd Mead Passed Away at 86

Legendary artist Syd Mead, visual futurist, motion picture concept designer, industrial designer, and automotive designer who was an inspiration to everyone working in these design fields, has died at the age of 86 of complications of a lymphoma.

Disney fans will also remember him for his concept designs for TRON ( below ) or Tomorrowland ( above ),  and of course Blade Runner. D&M pays tribute to this great artist with a selection of his artworks below, make sure to click on each to see them in big size.

Syd Mead also did this artwork showing a futuristic castle and i thought what a great idea it was!

Pictures: copyright Syd Mead, Disney

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Holidays Tribute : The Genius of Artist Eric Heschong

It's still the Holidays season and i want to pay a tribute to Eric Heschong, a highly talented artist, who did gorgeous artworks for WDI and many others companies. Eric, unfortunately, passed away at 62 years old on June 4, 2013, six and a half years ago.

Eric Heschong paintings have been an inspiration for many artists who admired his work - like Greg Pro, also creating artwork for WDI - and personally i've always been a huge fan of Eric's artwork since i discovered his artwork for Walt Disney Imagineering sixteen years ago with the fantastic Tomorrowland '98 paintings that you can see above and below.

Actually i remember being told by Eric that this artwork above - Eric's original - had been modified by another painter at the request of WDI. Here below is the modified version, check what has been changed!

Among other paintings that Eric did for WDI there is this other one for Tomorrowland '98...

...as well as this other one showin the kinetic stucture and Rocket Rodss

And this next one for Disneyland Autopia...

beautiful painting of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Actually, this one was not an order from WDI, Eric did this painting for himself!

Tokyo Disneyland fans will be highly interested by the next artwork as it is an artwork that Eric did for a TDL project that never was. This "Fantasia" art-deco style building looks gorgeous don't you think? This "Fantasia" store was a project of Imagineer Eddie Sotto and was anchored by a huge animated sorcerers apprentice fountain inside, a miniature golf course on the roof and a restaurant. Unfortunately the project was shot down at the last minute and the "Bon Voyage" shop was built instead.

Eric also did great artworks for Landmark Entertainment, but first let me tell you more about Eric's career.

Eric was part of a well-known industry family. His father, E. Albert Heschong, was an Emmy award winning Art Director for CBS and ABC. Eric's brother, Gregg Heschong, is a Emmy nominated Director of Photography and Director. Born on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1950 in New York City to parents joining the then budding TV industry, Eric grew up in LA, learning to surf as a "junior lifeguard" in Palos Verdes in the 50's and playing rock and roll music with friends in Encino in the 60's.

From an early age his greatest talent was always painting, creating compelling visualizations of what others could only talk about. He studied at CalArts in Valencia and with Fred Fixler at Brandes Art Institute in Van Nuys, and began his career painting scenery at CBS Studio Center, designing animation backgrounds for feature films and TV shows at Hanna Barbera Studios. He transitioned into a successful career as a creator of "artist's renderings" for major project developers, bringing their concepts alive on canvas.

He worked doing tight architectural illustration. and then for Landmark Entertainment, the company of Gary Goddard and Tony Christopher which was creating attractions, theme parks and resorts or casinos design. If you don't know Landmark, it's them for instance who designed the Terminator 3D attraction for Universal Studios and the amazing Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure. At Landmark, back at the end of the 1990's Eric worked with Chuck Cancillier who was the designer. Chuck would do pencil layouts and then hand them off to Eric for paint. Every so often, he'd be asked to do the layouts.

"Working for Landmark was a fun time for me" told me Eric. "I enjoyed the work and tried to please. I used my portfolio from Landmark to get work at Universal Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. Most of the work I did at Walt Disney Imagineering was for Tony Baxter."

As the entertainment industry transitioned to computer graphics over the past twenty years, Eric's painting skills became increasingly obsolete, but more prized by collectors. Although shy and unassuming, Eric was an extraordinarily generous person, who mentored other young developing painters in the entertainment industry. Eric never married yet also mentored many neighborhood children in art and music, providing a safe and inspirational after-school environment as he worked out of his home in Studio City.

We will now have a look at his paintings for Landmark, some of them are from his early work, but no need to say they were all gorgeous.

The first one above, is a painting of "Emerald City" which was done for a Wizard of Oz park that was supposed to go in somewhere in Kansas. Landmark didn't mind that Eric's Emerald City looked nothing like the one in the movie.

This next painting with the purple rocket was for a Paramount Pictures park. A Willie Wonka attraction (on the right) and a Godfather's restaurant (on the left) were to be featured.

The two next paintings were done of course for a Star Trek attraction. I don't think these scenes/decors were realised but Landmark is the company who also did the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas.

The next concept with this copper colored space station was actually built in South Korea.

This next painting of Bluto Bay decor was done by Eric for the Toon Lagoon Popeye area at Universal Islands of Adventure.

Eric also did this concept-art for a James Bond "Licence to thrill" attraction. First, i thought he did it for a previous concept of the Walt Disney Studios "Motors, Action!" stunt show, as i knew WDI envisioned to do the stunt show on a James Bond theme. Then it was cancelled and i always thought it was for a rights/license problem, that the Bond license was too expensive, etc... In fact not, it's probably because Paramount Parks got the rights to do this "License to thrill" attraction. The attraction existed for real from 1998 in three or four diferent Paramount parks.

Landmark also designed Hotels and Casinos, and Eric also did paintings for these, like this 1999 ”Muwi Kingdom Hotel” concept for Inchon, South Korea.

This next bird's eye view was to be a casino/hotel called The Desert Kingdom for Las Vegas to replace the Desert Inn. But the Desert Inn was sold to Steve Wynn who built the Wynn Hotel instead.

Eric's painting of the interior lobby was incredibly spectacular - i should say dazzling. That's the one below, with the griffins.

This next concept-art with the movie theaters and trolley car was done for a Navy Pier concept in Chicago.

This one too was done for the Chicago Navy Pier concept.

This Eric' 1998 acrylic painting shows a land called "Cartoon Ville" part of a proposal for a "Shanghai Movie Park" in China.

The two next paintings called "Metropolis Metro Entertainment Center" were done by Eric for a Shanghai Metro Entertainment Center.

The concept-art below show a "Nautical Sports Dome" for a Niagra Theme Park.

"U.S.O. with Bob Hope" is the name of the Cell Vinyl on illustration board concept below.

Eric next painting was for a "Rhythm and Blues Area" in a Grammy Exposition.

As i told you Landmark did a lot of concepts for casinos. Here are some paintings that Eric did for casinos. Let's begin with the Las Vegas Caesar's Palace and this concept-art for a 1995 "Caesar's Exterior Expansion".

The next one shows a new inside decor proposal for the Caesar's palace...

And this one, always at the Caesar's, was called "Casino of the Gods".

This next 1999 painting from Eric was named "Secondary Gaming-Train Station", a proposed expansion of the Barona Casino in San Diego.

”Rooftop Casino” is the name of the scene below - obviously inspired by the rooftop of Paris Opera (where by the way i walked upon for real some years ago for a photo shooting!).

This next 1997 painting ”Monex New York Casino” was another kind of "rooftop" view for the Century City Monex.

"Starlight Restaurant Interior” is the title of Eric's artwork below, designed for Phantom Phantasy Casino.

These two 1993 acrylic paintings were Eric's concepts for the Harrahs Hotel/CasinoLaughlin in Las Vegas. The first one is called "Harrahs Laughlin" and the next one "Plaza Scene"

Always for the Harrahs in Las Vegas, this last artwork from Eric was called "Mardi Gras".

I want to thanks Eric Heschong and Gary Goddard of Landmark Entertainment who provided me the pictures files and authorisation to post them when this article was first posted some years ago. We will miss Eric and his amazing paintings.

Artwork: copyright Landmark - Eric Heschong - Disney Enterprises