Paul Rand was one of the 20th century’s most influential and inspirational American graphic designers, mostly known for designing the logos for major American designs and corporations. He was born in New York City, and studied art and design in various prestigious universities there. From 1936 until 1941 he served as the art editor for the famed Esquire magazine, and taught graphic design at Pratt Institute, Yale University, and more.
Rand was a maven at creating logos for miscellaneous commercial firms, including IBM, UPS, and the major American Broadcasting Company, after receiving many awards and accolades for his important work in the field of arts and design.
Rand was eager to combine the visual art with the written word, and his poster designs reflected his theoretical writings on this art form and his experience with making posters and conveying his aesthetic to the viewers. In other words, Rand coalesced writing and art, and saw them as two mutually dependent mediums. In an important essay, Rand emphasized the fact that a poster needs to work as a cohesive facet of the environment and audience for which it is intended, he wrote in length about the different consequences that this interdependence of the arts on the written form can have on all aspects and stages of the design process. Thus, Rand accentuated the idea that graphic designers should rationally think and create a specific process before commencing to work on their artistic endeavor. In his words:
“The designer does not, as a rule, begin with some preconceived idea. Rather the idea is … the result of careful study and observation, and the design is the product of that idea. In order, therefore, to achieve an effective solution to the problem the designer must necessarily go through some sort of mental process. Consciously or not, he analyzes, interprets, formulates. He is aware of the scientific and technological developments in his own and kindred fields.”
In some eyes, Rand’s logos may appear simplistic and simplified. However, Rand believed that in order to make companies accessible to the entire gamut of the American public, designs, in his words, “do not need to be esoteric to be original or exciting.”
To this day, Rand remains a vital individual in paving the way for designers and artists alike. One of the most notable of his latest works was his collaboration with Steve Jobs for the NeXT Computer corporate identity, where Jobs was extremely satisfied with his work. Many of Rand’s customers labeled him, at the time, “the greatest living graphic designer”.