A conversation with Paul Rand

Paul Rand. 1914-1996. This six-minute amateur footage of Rand chatting with some design students gives a great insight into the man. At the time of writing there are just a couple of hundred views on YouTube.

Worth your time.

“Don’t try to be original. Just try to be good.”

Rand paraphrasing the late architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who said, “I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.”

At the end of the footage you see Rand outside where the students had parked their car. He’s gesturing directions as they prepare to drive away from the studio. It reminds me of my granddad who does the same when I reverse out of his driveway.

Thanks to Josh Kasten for the tip.

For a more in-depth discussion, here’s a three-part interview.

11 responses

  1. He was a wise man, not question about it.

    Also, he was authentic! This video shows Paul Rand as Paul Rand. Not one man before camera and other at home. He was himself all the time and it makes him ever worth.

  2. Me too, Mark.

    Danny, thanks for letting us know, and thanks also for the effort you’ve put into the paul-rand.com site. Excellent. I’m sure the DVD will be a great collectors item.

  3. There is a great post by Von Glitschka at illustrationclass.com where he takes one of his amazing illustrations and completes a process that blurs the line between illustration, graphic design, and fine art, making his graphic design something that is gallery ready.

    I like Rand’s statement just past half-way: “Painting is no different than graphic design…one uses oil paint…the other uses whatever he uses…”

    http://www.illustrationclass.com/?p=108

  4. “Don’t try to be original. Just try to be good.” And that is one of my favourite quotes. Love Paul Rand. My two teachers are Parsons swore by him and one of them drummed that quote into me!

  5. Thanks for the link, Douglas. The Vonster comes up with some great material.

    Hey Ebi, maybe next time you see those teachers you can tell them it was Mies van der Rohe who said it. I must take a look at his work.

  6. I don’t know too much about this Paul Rand… or care too much for him either… but I think he is saying that “don’t be a shit… design is not that important… why the hell do you think it is…why???” …partly because of phrases such as “graphic design is a term that doesn’t mean anything” or “form & content… you get through a dictionary & it doesn’t tell you what it is” (& he sells that crap for a dollar ;) and “I’m going to do it in Swedish… because when you say ‘design’… nobody knows what you are talking about” …finally he points out a painting that he somewhat refers to as “rubbish” and praises the artist (anyone catch his name) as though to say ‘that guy, that artist, he gets it… it’s crap’

    Finally though… when you get old (now… I’m not old… but I’m getting there) you realise that what you thought was extremely important… actually… was not… & all the accolades are as hollow as the time you received them in. Gone. This old man is simply trying to reach to these young people & tell them “do it… whatever it is do it… crap is as good as good is as good as original… everything is graphic… & design is nothing… and it’s all the same as 1 dollar in the end… will go quicker then you thought… so don’t live & swear by it” …and this is how it goes when you get old.

    I don’t know too much about this Paul Rand… or care too much for him either… but I agree with him.

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