Today I am going to introduce you to an American graphic artist, who pioneered a distinct Modernist Style. Paul Rand was the designer for many iconic logos in major corporations and an important figure in the American advertising industry.
Paul Rand was born as Peretz Rosenbaum on August 15, 1914. He changed his name later in life to conceal his Jewish identity, out of fear that he may lose work because of his ancestry. Rand had an interest in paint and design at a very early age. He demonstrated this interest through creating signs for his father’s grocery store and for school events. Although Rand’s father did not believe that anyone could make a career of art, he agreed to let him attend art classes at night, during high school, at the Pratt Institute. Rand continued his art education at The New School for Design, The Arts Students League, and Yale University.
Rand started his career as a part-time stock image illustrator. During this time he was building an impressive portfolio and was gaining recognition. In 1936 he was hired to produce layouts for a men’s fashion magazine and was eventually promoted to a full-time position as art director for Esquire magazine.
When the great depression ended, companies started spending more money to advertise their products. After three years at Esquire, Rand became the art director at the Weintraub Agency. His ads were different than what was common at the time. He often used more bold and straight fonts rather than loopy and handwritten. His work contained drawings that were sketchy and he utilized shapes, colors, and found objects, such as cut paper. He always signed his ads, which was unnecessary, because his work was very identifiable.
At the end of World War II, Rand ventured out as a corporate logo designer, creating logos for multinational corporations. He created many logos that are still in use today, such as IBM, ABC, Westinghouse, and UPS. Many people would say that Rand’s logo were simplistic, but Rand would beg to differ. He felt like every detail was meant to attract the eye. He also believed that, “ideas do not need to be esoteric to be original or exciting.”
Corporate logo design ended up being the main piece of Paul Rand’s career. He believed that a logo is more important than painting because “…a zillion people see that logo” and it affects every aspect of how they live their lives. Steve Jobs called him, “the greatest living graphic designer.”
Rand went on to teach at Yale University and wrote design books such as, Design, Form, and Chaos, Thoughts on Design, and Design and the Play Instinct. Paul Rand died of cancer at the age of 82, in 1996.
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