Hans Rudolf Giger was a Swiss painter, sculptor and set designer, who became famous for his work with airbrushing. He was born into a middle class family in Chur, Switzerland. Giger became interested in the arts from a very young age, and began drawing and painting as a child. His father was a pharmacist and wanted Giger to follow in his footsteps, as he believed that art was not a lucrative way to make a living. His father received a human skull from a pharmaceutical company as part of a professional promotion. Giger became fascinated with this, and thus began his interest with all things dark and strange. He was especially taken with the works of Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. His mother was very supportive of his interest in art and encouraged her son to pursue it. After high school, he obtained a certificate in drawing and then enrolled at Zurich’s School of Applied Arts, where he studied architecture and Industrial Design. He made friends with several other artists, and became involved in other aspects of the arts.
In 1966, Giger started working as an interior designer but also continued to draw and paint. He quit his full time job in 1968 to devote all of his time to the pursuit of art. One of his first posters was published in 1969, and he also held his first exhibition outside of Zurich. Over the period of the next decade, Giger began experimenting with the use of the airbrush. He went on to become the leading airbrush artist in the world. His work was rendered on a massive scale and he was the one of the first artists who popularized the use of the airbrush in modern art. His work came to be recognized for its fantastic and extra-terrestrial imagery, along with its dark themes and grotesque landscapes. In 1978, Giger began working on the successful Hollywood film ALIEN for which he produced most of the artwork and sets. He sculpted the creatures himself with a meticulous level of detail. This won him the Oscar award for best achievement in visual effects in 1980.
He is said to have gotten his inspiration from disturbing nightmares that he had as a child. In 1988, he opened a bar in Tokyo, Japan but was not satisfied with the way it was constructed. The same year saw the opening of the H. R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. This museum contains the largest official collection of his artwork. Four years later, in 2002, he opened another bar in his home city of Chur in Switzerland, the construction of which he personally oversaw. In April 2003, he opened another museum called the H. R. Giger Museum. Several museums around the world display a collection of his work. In December 2004, he was awarded another prestigious award at Paris City Hall. Giger continued to work until the end of his life. He had been married twice, first in 1979 to Mia Bonzanigo (who he divorced in 1981) and then to Carmin Scheifele to whom he remained married until his death in May 2014. Giger died after sustaining injuries from a fall down a staircase. He has been widely honored both during his life and after his death, and remains one of the most influential modern artists of today.