Paul Rand: Father of Modern Graphic Design

1825 words 8 pages
When Paul Rand died at age 82, his career had spanned six decades and numerous chapters of design history. His efforts to elevate graphic design from craft to profession began as early as 1932, when he was still in his teens. By the early 1940s, he had influenced the practice of advertising, book, magazine, and package design. By the late 1940s, he had developed a design language based purely on form where once only style and technique prevailed (Heller).

Rand did not set out to be a radical. Trained in the commercial art bullpens of New York City, he thoroughly understood the needs of the marketplace, while at the same time frowning on esthetic standards that impeded functionality. He modeled himself on Paul Klee, El Lissitzky, and Le
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Rand proceeded to modernize the field of advertising design. Before the 1940s, very little American advertising was really designed; it was composed by a printer or laid out by a bullpen boardman. Layouts were invariably dictated by copy, and copywriters would give rough sketches to the layout artists to refine. Rand believed that advertising composition was a design problem that required intelligent solutions. To the consternation of the copywriters, he took pleasure in tearing up their layouts, particularly the ones he called "really lousy." He had little patience and was often quite rude. But, as he explained, "I was not going to let myself be treated like a job printer on Pitkin Avenue"(Bierut).

Rand soon became known not only for his design, but also for his philosophy of design. In 1946, he wrote the first of four books about his work, Thoughts on Design, published by Wittenborn Books(Heller). Sharing insight with students and professionals was not, however, his primary purpose. "God forbid, there would ever be a fire, at least I'd have all my samples in one place," he once admitted. Yet as the book took shape, it became more than a monograph; it aimed to teach. In the preface, he wrote: "This book attempts to arrange in some logical order certain principles governing advertising design. The pictorial examples used to illustrate these principles are taken from work in which I was

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