Paul Rand Research Paper

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Paul Rand is one of the most important figures of not only American graphic design, but of graphic design as a whole. “More than any other American designer, Paul Rand initiated the American approach to modern design.” (Megg 390). Trained in the 1930’s at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students League, Rand eventually went on to become a professor himself at Cooper Union, Pratt, and later at Yale University, where he taught graphic design in the graduate program from 1956 to 1969. Finally, he returned to Yale University in 1974. “Rand was a versatile designer whose career can be divided into three periods.” (Graphic Design Archive Online). From 1937-1941, he worked in media promotion and book design. From 1941-1954,…show more content…
While working here, “his collaborations with copywriter Bill Bernbach became a prototype for the now ubiquitous art/copy team working closely together to create a synergistic visual-verbal integration.” (Meggs 391). His work during this time is often characterized by a playful use of entertaining puns and wordplay supported by Rand’s use of photography, drawing, and logo. After leaving the Weintraub agency in 1946, he wrote a book titled Thoughts on Design, illustrated with over eighty examples of his work. This book was said to have inspired an entire generation of designers. Rand a strong understanding of the value of simple, every day symbols that would act as tools for translating ideas into visual communications. “To engage the audience successfully and communicate memorably, he knew that the designer needed to alter and juxtapose signs and symbols.” (Meggs 391). His works were often marked with sensual visual contrasts. He enjoyed playing reds against greens, organic shapes against geometric ones, photographic tones against flat colors, cut and torn edges against sharp forms, and textural patterns against whites. “For all his visual inventiveness, Rand defined design as the integration of form and function for effective communication. The cultural role of the designer was to upgrade rather than serve the least common denominator of public taste.” (Meggs…show more content…
It was during this time that Rand focused on creating corporate identities for some of the biggest companies in the world. According to graphic designer Louis Danziger, “He almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool. Anyone designing in the 1950’s and 1960’s owed much to Rand, who largely made it possible for us to work. He more than anyone else made the profession reputable. We went from being commercial artists to graphic designers largely on his merits.” (Heller 107). Rand realized that to be functional over a long period of time, “a trademark should be reduced to elementary shapes that are universal, visually unique, and stylistically timeless.” (Meggs 418). Perhaps his most defining work was the corporate identity logo that he designed for International Business Machines, or IBM. His trademark for IBM was developed from a typeface called City Medium, designed by Georg Trump in 1930. “This geometric slab-serif typeface was designed along lines similar to Futura. Redesigned into the IBM corporate logo, it was transformed into a powerful and unique alphabet image, for the slab serifs and square negative spaces in the B lent the trademark unity and distinction.” (Meggs 418). After the major success of the IBM corporate identity, Rand went on to create corporate identity logos for several other major companies, including

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