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I'm a game design & development student and as part of my graduation project I have to do research on the history of concept art. I've been struggling with these two questions:
1. When did concept design become a serious job in the game industry?
2. Which artist were/are the most influential in the area of concept art in general (with this I mean not specifically in the game industry)?
I would really appreciate if anyone who is knowlegdeable about this could help me find some answers or share his/her thoughts.
Concept artists for games became important in the late 80's when games switched from pong and asteroid type games to adventure games like loom and monkey island, battle of britain, etc
Syd mead, ( Alien, Aliens, Tron, Bladerunner Star Trek, Predator ) has had a huge career as a concept artist, Ron Cobb too( Alien, Conan, ET, Total Recall,Sar Wars, True Lies). Joe Johnston and Ralph MCQuarrie made concept art important, They did the first three starwars movies, before that no one really cared about concpet art that much.
I think it was more very early 90s when I first noticed "concept art" becoming part of video games. Before that we just did our own basically. A lot of that influence came with the first "Hollywood/Animation" wave of idiots which f*ed everything up to be honest. I'll try not to get sidetracked...
As far as prominent concept designers...keep in mind that concept design for entertainment is a subset of concept art in general, which is better known as industrial design and includes architecture, transportation design, product design, toy design, etc.
Important historical figures would be (these are just off the top of my head - there's tons more I'm sure): Hugh Ferriss, Norman Bel Geddes, Buckminster Fuller, Chesley Bonestell, Raymond Loewy, Charles Eames, Walter Teague, Eero Saarinen, Phillipe Starck, Ettore Sottsass, Luigi Colani, Kelly Johnson (aircraft designer)
Syd Mead (as dpaint mentioned) - he is like unto a God in the realm of concept design. Besides the projects mentioned he also designs major theme parks and things on that scale.
I agree on Ralph McQuarrie for sure - I think he took concept art to a new level with his production paintings for Star Wars - of course partly due to the SW phenomenon but the portfolio published of his paintings made so many aware of concept art.
James Gurney, though not credited, was a major influence on the second Star Wars trilogy (and it wasn't his fault)
Doug Chiang, Iain Mcaig, Crash Mcreery, Yoshitaki Amano
Fritz Lang's film Metropolis and Walter Schultze-Mittendorf (designed the "Maria" Robot) are important
Italy, Scandinavia, Germany and the US are the most important cultures/countries when it comes to industrial design
Frog Design is a studio that is globally influential in product design
Landmark Entertainment is huge
I know I'm missing a huge bunch of names in the entertainment field...if I think of any I'll post them.
Concepts have been done for theaters even hundred years ago. And of course, all the early 20th century movies were done by help of artists. They were called different names though: scenic designer, stage designer, costume designer, etc. but the term "artist" came much later. I personally think that we are entertainment designers and no artists but anyway..
Hope that helps.
This is really good question. I am sorry to say that I don't have any idea regarding you question.
I was completely new to me but after reading this post I think now I know a little bit about concept of art.