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El Paso Museum of Art


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.

Rand’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 man’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, 1938–1996.


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





Paul Rand  

Catalog created for a fictitious exhibition at El Paso Museum of Art on american graphic designer Paul Rand. Design in cover, back cover a...

Paul Rand  

Catalog created for a fictitious exhibition at El Paso Museum of Art on american graphic designer Paul Rand. Design in cover, back cover a...