There was sad news this Tuesday morning for Aliens fans when the death of artist H.R. Giger was announced by Sandra Mivelaz, the administrator of the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland.
Best known by his design work on the Alien franchise, Giger died from complications suffered in a fall at age 74. His work on that franchise earned him an Special Effects Oscar in 1980 for his work designing the creatures and sets of Alien.
It’s hard to imagine anyone not familiar with his work in at least a passing fashion. His work melded machine and human into nightmarish creatures that continues to influence a generation of artists and film makers. In an interview with Starlog magazine Giger said:
My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy. If they like my work they are creative…or they are crazy.
His work wasn’t always easily accepted by audiences but always made an impact. Two of his album cover designs appear on the Rolling Stone Top 100 Album Covers of All Time, Debbie Harry‘s Koo Koo (1981) and the (1973) ELP‘s (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) Brain Salad Surgery.
He was named to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013 for his work which included Poltergeist II, Dune, and Species. His work continued to influence the designs of the latest movie in the Alien franchise Prometheus.
His work is a favorite in tattoo parlors around the world and he once said in an interview in Seconds magazine:
The greatest compliment is when people get tattooed with my work, whether it’s done well or not. To wear something like that your whole life is the largest compliment someone can pay to you as an artist.
Giger was often thought of as a brooding, on the edge of sanity artist. Who wouldn’t think that just looking at his work. Add in his tendency to work late at night and his trademark black clothing, a habit picked up while working with Indian ink as a draftsman because the black clothing hides the ink stains better, and you can see where others jump to quick judgement.
We’ll never forget his work, because we’ll continue to see traces of his influence through the works of artists that grew up and developed their talent because of what Giger’s talent brought to the world.