StudyBoss » Biography » How Did Paul Rand’s Effect On Graphic Design

How Did Paul Rand’s Effect On Graphic Design

Paul Rand, born Peretz Rosenbaum on august 15, 1914, was raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York. Orthodox Jewish law forbids the creation of images that can be worshiped as idols, but already at a young age, Rand copied pictures of the models shown on advertising displays in his father’s grocery store, and violated the rules. His father frequently warned him that art was no way to make a living, nevertheless he agreed to let his son attend night classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Later in his career he stated that he “had literally learned nothing at Pratt; or hatever little I learned, I learned by doing myself”. Rand is known for being a self-taught-designer. Spending time in bookshops, he discovered ‘Commercial Art’ and ‘Gebrauchsgrafik’, two leading European graphic arts magazines which introduced him to Bauhaus-ideas. Graphic design was never mentioned at Pratt School, but confronted with this Avant-garde European work Rand knew he wanted to focus on the commercial side of art. Rand’s career began with a part-time job as an illustrator producing ‘junk’, but nevertheless he learned more about graphic techniques than he had in school.

He launched his first freelance project and landed a few minor accounts in the mid 1930’s. Convinced by his friends that a Jewish name might slow his career down, he changed his name. “He remembered that an uncle in the family was named Rand, so he figured that four letters here, four letters there, would create a nice symbol. So he became Paul Rand. ” In 1936 Rand was hired as a freelance-designer to produce layouts for “Apparel Arts”, a men’s fashion magazine.

Although his methods were unconventional, for they relied on the intelligence f the viewer, it was never too extreme. He gained the trust of his editors and they gave him a long leash. Rand earned a full-time job and an offer to become art-director for the Esquire magazine. In addition to his long hours spent at the Esquire office he took on some more creative freelance work, designing ‘Directions’, a cultural magazine. His covers were a homage to the Bauhaus-ideas.

“When I was doing the covers of Direction I was trying to compete with the Bauhaus, Van Doesburg, Leger and Picasso. Compete is not the right word, I was trying to do it in the spirit. Rand, more than others in advertising business, believed a brand identity was more important than a billboard. At IBM, while entering the electronic era, there was some questioning about the image this company presented to the public. They were in need of a makeover. IBM possessed a corporate mark, a globe atop a simple line of type, designed in 1924. Rand decided to clean up the logo but as IBM was a very conservative organization he took small steps to get his ideas accepted.

“They had a slab-serif so i used a slightly different slab-serif. He had to wait a few more years to get the striped version (inspired by thin parallel lines to protect the signature against counterfeiting) accepted. Rand designed packaging and marketing materials for IBM from the early 1970s until the early 1980s, including the well known Eye-Bee-M poster. Although Rand’s logos may be interpreted as simplistic, he was quick to point out that “ideas do not need to be esoteric to be original or exciting. ” Rand designed many identities which are still in use. Not only IBM, but also ABC, Cummins Engine,

Westinghouse, NEXT and UPS. For UPS his challenge was to transform the out-of-date shield into a modern image. He streamlined the contours, used a lower case letter and placed a simple drawing of a package on the top of the shield. “I didn’t try anything else,” Rand admitted. “If you show them more than two ideas” Rand would say, “you weaken your position. You make one statement, and this is it”. This doesn’t mean Rand’s ideas always came floating, He often made fifty sketches before showing one. “If you think it comes easily, it’s not easy.

I can solve any problem in the world, but it does not always come instantly. ” But very often the first idea that came into his mind was the solution. Corporate design became the key aspect of his career. Rand said that ‘a logo is more important in a certain sense than a painting because a zillion people see the logo and it affects what they do, it affects their taste, it affects the appearance of where they live, it affects everything. ”

Effects On Graphic Design Left by Paul Rand If the word “legend” has any meaning in the graphic arts and if the term legendary can be pplied with accuracy to the career of any designer, it can certainly be applied to Paul Rand (1914- 1996). In 1951, the legend was already firmly in place. By then, Paul had completed his first career as a designer of media promotion at Esquire-Coronet – and as an outstanding cover designer for Apparel Arts and Directions. He was well along on a second career as an advertising designer at the William Weintraub agency, which he had joined as art director at its founding.

Paul Rand’s book, Thoughts on Design, with reproductions of almost one hundred of his designs and some of the best words yet written n graphic design, had been published four years earlier – a publishing event that cemented his international reputation and identified him as a designer of influence from Zurich to Tokyo. In an interesting way the chronology of Paul Rand’s design experience has paralleled the development of the modern design movement. Paul Rand’s first career in media promotion and cover design ran from 1937 to 1941, his second career in advertising design ran from 1941 to 1954, and his third career in corporate identification began in 1954.

Paralleling these three careers there has been a onsuming interest in design education and Paul Rand’s fourth career as an educator started at Cooper Union in 1942. He taught at Pratt Institute in 1946 and in 1956 he accepted a post at Yale University’s graduate school of design where he held the title of Professor of Graphic Design. In 1937, Paul launched his first career at Esquire. Although he was only occasionally involved in the editorial layout of that magazine, he designed material on its behalf and turned out a spectacular series of covers for Apparel Arts, a quarterly published in conjunction with Esquire.

In spite of a chedule that paid no heed to regular working hours or minimum wage scales, he managed in these crucial years to find time to design an impressive array of covers for other magazines, particularly Directions. From 1938 on, his work was a regular feature of the exhibitions of the Art Directors Club. Most contemporary designers are aware of Paul Rand’s successful and compelling contributions to advertising design. What is not well known is the significant role he played in setting the pattern for future approaches to the advertising concept.

Paul was probably the first of a long and distinguished ine of art directors to work with and appreciate the unique talent of William Bernbach. Paul described his first meeting with Bernbach as “akin to Columbus discovering America”, and went on to say, “This was my first encounter with a copywriter who understood visual ideas and who didn’t come in with a yellow copy pad and a preconceived notion of what the layout should look like”. Paul spent fourteen years in advertising where he demonstrated the importance of the art director in advertising and helped break the isolation that once surrounded the art department.

The final hought of his Thoughts on Design is worth repeating: “Even if it is true that commonplace advertising and exhibitions of bad taste are indicative of the mental capacity of the man in the street, the opposing argument is equally valid. Bromidic advertising catering to that bad taste merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies him one of the most easily accessible means of aesthetic development”. In 1954, when Paul Rand decided that for him Madison Avenue was no longer a two-way street and he resigned from the Weintraub agency, he was cited as one of the ten best art directors by the

Museum of Modern Art. This was the same year in which he received the gold medal from the Art Directors Club for his Morse Code advertisement addressed to David Sarnoff of RCA. Laszlo Mo holy-Nagy, a pioneer typographer, photographer, and designer of the modern movement and a master at the Bauhaus in Wiemar, may have come closest to defining the Rand style when he said Paul was “an idealist and a realist using the language of the poet and the businessman. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems, but his fantasy is boundless”.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.