His design and conception work is the sole reason that we are still here today talking about Star Wars and all things related 32 years later. I know George Lucas was necessary to get everyone together to put things in the context of his half-assed story, but I truly believe the movie's success can be attributed to the way the Star Wars universe looked and "felt" and the best things was,,,,WAS,,,it was not over-elaborated. They didn't call the blasters EE-3s, they didn't emphasize the technology overtly. If George did anything right it was letting the imagery speak for itself. As an artist myself I can truly say that Ralph is just the Einstein of visual futurism. Between him and Sid Mean an entire generation has been able to visualize the future and the fantastic in ways that before the 70s were really not possible.
The evolution of art and design hits bumps in the road from time-to-time. Like for example when Filippo Brunelleschi explained the principles of one point perspective it opened up a whole new way of thinking about (thinking about) how to render the world around us. Picasso did similar things with composition and Dali did it thematically.
Before Star Wars, Blade Runner and I should also include Alien, H.R. Higer, Sci-fi was a kids genre with stories wrapped around technology...flying saucers, "zap" guns etc.
Ralp and Sid and Giger just pull things out of their heads and say "there it is" "this is what the future looks like" "This is what technology looks like" " this is what the world looks like"
As an artist the most frustrating thing is to try to create something original. So I try not to look at other people's work as much as I did when I was a kid. Ralph's designs sold Star Wars. Without Ralph there is no Star Wars.
I know those are bold statements but that's how I feel. Sorry for the length...this is something I have a great deal of passion about.