Paul Rand (1914–1996) was a huge influence for me as a student of graphic design at the University of Michigan. As a “commercial artist” and “ad man” Rand helped establish the practice of graphic design in post-WWII America. He embraced the modernist, Swiss aesthetic (lack of sentimentality and nostalgia!) and was best known for his corporate identities for IBM, ABC, Westinghouse, UPS, NeXT, and others.
Steven Heller (renowned design author, editor, and educator) gave a poignant lecture at the University of Michigan Museum of Art – February 8, 2019 – on the work of Paul Rand entitled Paul Rand: A Designer’s Scribbles. Incorporating sketches, “scribbles”, finished work, un-published work, video clips, ephemera from Rand’s files, as well as personal anecdotes – Heller gave us an inside view on Rand’s process and personality. Rand was both playful and serious. He thought deeply about his design practice, yet described his work as “jobs”.
My favorite Rand takeaways – designers must have “curiosity” and use their “intuition”. You can’t teach these things. And “a contract is no substitute for trust”.