El Paso Museum of Art
PA U L RAND
September 11 to October 14, 2015
he received his art certificate. However, Rand was
Rosenbaum, August 15, 1914
not satisfied with the education he received, as he
in Brooklyn, New York. He
believed art was taught in a way that emphasized
was an American graphic designer and
only the Renaissance Style. Later in his life, he was
art director who pioneered a new way
introduced to European artists through a magazine
of developing effective graphic ideas
known as Gebrauchsgraphik. It was then that he
and solutions. Rand was introduced to design at
started to learn about more modern artists such as
a very young age. As a child he starting copying
A.M. Cassandre, E. McKnight Kauffer and László
pictures of Palmolive models he saw on ads in his
Moholy-Nagy. These artists influenced his career
father’s store and created signs for school events
which lasted over five decades and resulted in some
at P.S. 109. During high school, Rand attended the
of the most recognized and celebrated designs ever
Pratt Institute in the evenings and after three years
to be produced in the field.
Paul Rand, 1980s.
EARLY CAREER At the age of twenty three, Rand started working as a promotional and editorial designer for different magazines including Apparel Arts, Esquire, Ken, Coronet and Glass Packer. Many of Rand’s early designs showed inspiration from a 1900s German movement called Plakatstil, known for moving away from the complexity of Art Nouveau and creating a more modern look by being bold with simplified shapes and flat colors.
Coronet Brandy, advertisement, 1945.
With his design style he began to break traditions in American design via his unique manipulation of visual forms. Rand played with design and created shapes that became different things and contained life, this way he reduced everything to its simplest form in symbolic essence without making it boring. Rand always tried to move away from the ordinary clichés and found a way to present simple ideas in an innovative way that still could be seen as familiar. Paul Rand’s designs were always effective and memorable, since he understood the
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Direction, cover, March, 1957. Direction, cover, Summer Fiction Number, 1941. Summer, interior page for Apparel Arts, 1936. Park & Tilford, maquette for advertisement, 1929.
importance of universality and used it to translate ideas into visual communications.
Randâ€™s unique style started to create a revolution in design because it was different from everything else. His designs were simple but still more eye-catching. His work included photography, typography, signs, graphic shapes and different colors. In his book covers he played with negative space to create interesting figures out of the cut-out colored shapes he arranged with words. On the cover for The American Essays of Henry LEFT TO RIGHT: Stafford Fabrics advertisements, 1942. IBM Customer Support Center, 1980.
James he used a manâ€™s photograph in profile alongside a silhouette of the same photo filled in with colored stripes. Another example is the cover for Prejudices,
smart. He paid extreme attention to every single detail created a cut-out outline defining his body. of his designs and every line, shape or color choice was done after a thinking process that was meant to be eye catching. One of the methods that he implemented was to divide his design in two areas, a large area that drew attention and a small area that required the viewer pay closer attention. In his posters, he incorporated playful elements like basic shapes in bright colors and played with the positioning of the words creating interesting
His advertising was conceptually sharp and visually where Rand incorporated the photo of H.L. Menken and
negative space areas. This can be appreciated in his work on The Architectural Forum, Dubonnet, El Producto Cigars and Stafford Robes, among others. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Prejudices: A Selection, book cover, 1958. American Essays of Henry James, book cover, 1956. El Producto, counter card/gift box, 1953.
Paul Rand’s creativity was also reflected on the children’s books that he wrote and designed. His first foray into this field began in 1956 when he collaborated with his second wife, Ann, on the book I Know a Lot of Things. Other children’s books that Rand illustrated were Sparkle and Spin (1957), Little 1 (1962) and Listen! Listen! (1970). Rand illustrated these books with his iconic graphic cut paper style and a simplistic grace. This also created a relation in the way the stories were written, which later be portrayed in Rand’s design books for adults too.
TOP TO BOTTOM Sparkle and Spin, illustration, 1957. Little 1, Illustration, 1962.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Sparkle and Spin, illustration, 1957. I know a lot of things, cover, 1956. Little 1, illustration,1962.
NEXT PAGE Sparkle and Spin, illustration, 1957.
Rand exposed his design to the masses as a
and meaning for the graphic. Graphic design is
commercial artist. He started to climb his way up in
meant to be something beyond beauty, which involves
the world of corporate identity thanks to his abilities
logic and critical thinking. Paul Rand was able to
of convincing companies that his designs were the
accomplish this through the use of shape and color.
answer for their needs. Since he believed that “a
For example, in the IBM logo he used stripes to suggest
logo cannot survive unless it is designed with the
efficiency and speed. Rand’s work with companies
utmost simplicity and restraint,” his understanding of
changed the way which advertising and design were
universality led him to create simplistic but memorable
seen in the corporate world because he was able
and effective designs, focusing on a minimalistic
to “defamiliarize the ordinary” and still create visual
aspect. He designed some of the world’s most famous
enjoyment. While working with these companies he
corporate logos for ABC, Cummins, IBM, UPS, and
had the opportunity to create their whole corporate
Westinghouse, among others, many of which are still
identity. In his advertising and packaging design, he
in use. There are challenges that designers encounter
played with the juxtaposition of objects and visual
when creating a logo—like attracting attention and
techniques and used bright colors in order to create
establishing a visual identity, while having a reason
strong, appealing graphics.
“A logowithcannot survive unless it is designed the utmost simplicity and restraint. ” —Paul Rand
Logos designed by Paul Rand, 1938â€“1996.
LEGACY Rand’s revolutionary ideas created a whole new way for the profession of graphic design to be presented. He transformed commercial art from a craft to a profession, influenced the look of advertisements, and moved the designs of book and magazine covers away from established styles. Rand’s talent and experience led him to become an educator in 1942. He was part of the staff of Cooper Union, Pratt Institute and Yale University, where he held the title of Professor of Graphic Design. He also contributed to the field with several books on design: Thoughts on Design (1947), Trademark Design (1951), A Designer’s Art (1985), and Design, Form, and Chaos (1993), among others.He created a vocabulary based on pure form and color and altered the ways in which
major corporations used graphic identity. Nowadays, a lot
Paul Rand, 1980s.
of young designers have found inspiration in Rand’s design.
Thanks to Rand’s perfect balance between graphic design
An example of this can be found in the submissions for the
and philosophy, he will always be remembered as an
recent eBay logo redesign as well as in Melanie Riner and
important leader in the field of graphic design and his style
Gabriela Rodriguez’s work.
will continue to influence design for years to come.
Logo submissions for eBay’s redesign, 2012
Melanie Riner, Google Doodle proposals, 2013
“ Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated. —Paul Rand