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.'
"Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists—all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau.
In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator."
McQuarrie's expansive body of work — including character, creature, vehicle, and setting designs for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi — has left an indelible mark on the world's imagination, creating what can only be called the unmistakable 'Star Wars aesthetic.'
You can view a selection of Star Wars concept and licensed product paintings by Ralph McQuarrie in the slideshow on StarWars.com: http://starwars.com/news/ralph_mcqua...emembered.html