Paul Rand art director and graphic designer

Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.”― Paul Rand

August 15, 1914 – November 26, 1996

"Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations" Paul Rand

Paul Rand (Peretz Rosenbaum) was born on August 15, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York. He embraced design at a very young age, painting signs for his father's grocery store as well as for school events at P.S. 109. Rand's father did not believe art could provide his son with a sufficient livelihood, and so he required Paul to attend Manhattan's Haaren High School while taking night classes at the Pratt Institute. Rand was largely "self-taught" as a designer, learning about the works of Cassandre and Moholy-Nagy from European magazines such as Gebrauchsgraphik. Rand Also attended Parsons The New School for Design and the Art Students League of New York

Peretz Rosenbaum to Paul Rand

'Paul Rand,' four letters here, four letters there, would create a nice symbol. So he became Paul Rand

Roy R. Behrens notes the importance of this new title: "Rand's new persona, which served as the brand name for his many accomplishments, was the first corporate identity he created, and it may also eventually prove to be the most enduring

His career began with humble assignments, starting with a part-time position creating stock images for a syndicate that supplied graphics to various newspapers and magazines.[4] Between his class assignments and his work, Rand was able to amass a fairly large portfolio, largely influenced by the German advertising style Sachplakat (object poster) as well as the works of Gustav Jensen

“In essence, it is not what it looks like but what it does that defines a symbol.” ― Paul Rand, Thoughts on Design

Indeed, Rand was rapidly moving into the forefront of his profession. In his early twenties, he was producing work that began to garner international acclaim, notably his designs on the covers of Direction magazine, which Rand produced for no fee in exchange for full artistic freedom

"Among these young Americans, it seems to be that Paul Rand is one of the best and most capable. He is a painter, lecturer, industrial designer, [and] advertising artist who draws his knowledge and creativeness from the resources of this country. He is an idealist and a realist, using the language of the poet and business man. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems but his fantasy is boundless" László Moholy-Nagy

The reputation Rand so rapidly amassed in his prodigious twenties never dissipated; rather, it only managed to increase through the years as his influential works and writings firmly established him as the éminence grise* of his profession.

*a person who exercises power or influence in a certain sphere without holding an official position.

Early Works

An early advertisement design by Paul Rand (featured in the Museum of the City of New York's Retrospective on his work in Spring 2015)
“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”― Paul Rand
The cover art for Direction magazine proved to be an important step in the development of the "Paul Rand look" that was not as yet fully developed. The December 1940 cover, which uses barbed wire to present the magazine as both a war-torn gift and a crucifix, is indicative of the artistic freedom Rand enjoyed at Direction; in Thoughts on Design Rand notes that it "is significant that the crucifix, aside from its religious implications, is a demonstration of pure plastic form as well . . . a perfect union of the aggressive vertical (male) and the passive horizontal (female)
"He almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool. [. . .] Anyone designing in the 1950s and 1960s 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 being graphic designers largely on his merits." - Louis Danziger


“Everything is design. Everything!”― Paul Rand

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