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Alien, Prometheus and the Art of H.R. Giger

Childhood fears take many different forms; thunderstorms, bogeymen, or the two impossibly huge dogs next door that were always perilously close to knocking the blasted fence down: Make it stop!!! …Ahem. For H.R. Giger, fear took the form of an apparently bottomless shaft he found in a secret part of his childhood home in Switzerland. Below was a darkness that was to creep out of the shaft and onto the many pages the artist has produced throughout life. Years later, when Ridley Scott was struggling to visualise the somewhat amorphous idea of a butt-scary alien for his second film, it didn’t take long for him to appoint Giger as its creator. In fact, Scott relays the story of visiting the Fox offices, where he took one look at Giger’s art book The Necronomicon and made his decision instantly.

The Art That Inspired Alien and Prometheus: H.R. Giger’s Necronomicon Book

The design for Proto-Jockey was inspired Giger’s painting Necronom V

Necronom IV (1976)

Necronom I

Landscape XXX

H.R. Giger’s Alien Monster IV


Giger has spent the majority of his career working in airbrush, but it’s no giant leap to picture these blood-curdling images in three dimensions, and very often solid creations, such as an H.R. Giger edition Ibanez guitar, various furniture and, of course, movie sets have taken form as a result of viewers’ enthusiasm for his work.

The meticulous artist’s ability to shock us on a variety of levels (all the while engaging the viewer with beautiful tonal work and surprisingly subtle colour palettes) has captured the imaginations of movie makers, like Scott and David Lynch (Dune), as well as musicians, interior designers and, oh yes, gamers. The surrealist has worked with Korn, Dead Kennedys and even Deborah Harry. Several “Giger bars” have sprung up, with varying degrees of success (that’s another story) and gaming company, Cyberdreams, knew exactly who they needed when they came up with the idea for Dark Seed.

H.R. Giger’s Creations for the Alien Films

Sketches for the Facehugger

Cover image for Giger’s Alien

Sketches for the Facehugger

H.R. Giger working on the original Alien (image source: www.filmsfix.com)


Part of the reason Giger is such a perfect match to the Alien series is his preoccupation with the blending of the mechanical and the organic. This macabre symbiosis is ever-present in his art and is partly credited to Giger’s having been plagued with night terrors. Hey, when life gives you lemons…

The release of Prometheus, which is spawned in the same universe as the Alien series, brings our attention back to this dark, yet all-too-tangible story from the mind of Ridley Scott, and the terrifying extraterrestrial creations of the Swiss surrealist, H.R. Giger, are sure to take centre stage once again.

H.R. Giger’s Work in Prometheus

Still from the origins featurette for Prometheus

Still from the Prometheus trailer

Image from prometheus-movie.com

Shaw and the HR Giger designed Derelict in Prometheus. From the Prometheus Trailer

Further Reading and Related Videos

  1. H.R. Giger’s Website
  2. The H.R. Giger Museum
  3. The work of H.R. Giger on the 1979 movie Alien (video)
  4. The work of H.R. Giger on the 1979 movie Alien (part two)