Even after his death in 1996, Paul Rand remains one of the most famous graphic designers in the world. Born Peretz Rosenbaum on August 15th, 1914, he’s most reknowned for his corporate logos.
Rand was educated at the Pratt Institute (1929–1932), and the Art Students League (1933–1934). He was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. From 1956 to 1969, and beginning again in 1974, Rand taught design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Rand was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1972. He designed many posters and corporate identities, including the logos for IBM, UPS and ABC. Rand died of cancer on November 26th, 1996, and is buried in Beth El Cemetery In Norwalk, CT.
“Should a logo be self-explanatory? It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned.”
“A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies.”
“I do not use humour consciously, I just go that way naturally. A well known example is my identity for United Parcels Service: to take an escutcheon – a medieval symbol which inevitably seems pompous today – and then stick a package on top of it, that is funny.”
Speak Up published a story back in 2005 about what is possibly Paul Rand’s final logo. And here are a few videos of the legendary designer.
- Steve Jobs interview about working with Paul Rand (1993)
- Steven Heller interviews Paul Rand (1994)
- Paul Rand Tribute Film (2007)
More on Paul Rand
Many thanks to those who compiled the features and chat below.
Michael Bierut talking about Paul Rand’s Enron logo
Paul Rand: Thoughts and despair on logo design
Typographica discussion about the UPS logo redesign
FormFiftyFive discussion about Paul Rand’s Ford logo design
Discussion about the redesign of Paul Rand’s EF logo
Flickr pool of Paul Rand’s work
“I haven’t changed my mind about modernism from the first day I ever did it… It means integrity; it means honesty; it means the absence of sentimentality and the absence of nostalgia; it means simplicity; it means clarity. That’s what modernism means to me…”
Photo by Al Cheruk.
Paul Rand was truly the genius of logo design – his logos are so simple but so timeless. What I would’ve loved to see is a logo design process of some of the Rand’s classic logos, starting from his sketches and ending with the final choices. Have you seen his logo design sketches, David?
Thanks for all those other links – off to read about Enron and Rand’s unsuspected prediction of that company’s fate.
David, Thanks for the great article.
The simple shape, from a depth of complexity.
An influence always
It’s always interesting to know about the great contributors to a certain field.
“A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies.” Couldn’t be said better!
Like nearly every other high profile designer, Rand is/was overrated. There is nothing special about his designs except that they spawned trends.
All of those logos mentioned are of incredible quality and it’s amazing that one person was responsible behind them all.
The hardest thing I have going right now is convincing one of my colleagues to hire a professional graphics designer to do his logo for branding purposes. This article might be a selling point.
Great quotes and great info here. I’m going to devour every single article you linked to! :P Gotta learn from the masters. I’ve heard of Paul Rand but didn’t really know anything about him until now.
By the way, good luck in the graphic design group writing project.
Vivien, I’ve seen a few sketches, but not a process from start to finish. That’d be superb.
Nerd, thanks for the good luck, seems it paid off.
I’ve got a lot of love for the old schoool, especially in the logo field. It pains me when people don’t understand why the simple stuff works…’but it isn’t busy enough’, or even better when you know they’re trying so hard to find fault but for some reason can’t. That, my friends, is because it works.
Thanks for your recent comments, Al. I’m glad you find content on other pages of equal interest.
I am very happy to know the logo creator of IBM. Great quotes and great info here. I’m going to devour every single article you linked to. I didn’t really know anything about Paul Rand until now.
I like the most of the designs by Paul Rando.
Nice bolg, good posts. Keep posting like wise.
Another great post David. It’s a cool resource for young designers looking to educate themselves on the best designers from the past.
Hi Veera, Lawrence,
You’re both more than welcome.
Paul is one of the best. Thanks for the great article.
His work is pure genious. That Ford logo is gorgeous! :) And why would UPS change their logo? Just why? It was perfect. Perfect. Great article. :)
Great quotes and information.. Paul Rand was a “street smart kid” from Brooklyn… no wonder he was such a legend..
For his posthumous induction in to the One Club Hall of Fame, Imaginary Forces created an amazing video tribute to him.. check it out… not only does it encapsulate Paul Rand’s timeless contribution to the design community, but the video is extremely well made
Learning about Paul Rand is probably one of the best ways for a graphic design student to learn appreciation for graphic design done now as well as in the past. Thank you for providing the material for individuals such as I to learn about him and how he helped society with his ideals. It certainly is inspirational.
Graphic Design Student
Love this print inspired by Rand! Check it out.
For every design problem there are probably thousands of bad solutions (no solution at all), hundreds of mediocre solutions, dozens of pretty good solutions, and a few really good solutions. The penultimate solution, the one that would answer every concern and work the very best, is unavailable to the mortal, forever floating in the ether…just out of our grasp.