Paul Rand: Father of Modern Graphic Design

Topics: Graphic design, Communication design, Bauhaus / Pages: 8 (1814 words) / Published: Feb 20th, 2007
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 Corbusier, each of whom advocated a timeless spirit in design, and he adhered to Le Corbusier's dictum that "to be modern is not a fashion, it is a state"(Maeda).

Rand was born Paul Rosenbaum in 1914 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, and grew up in a family that strictly adhered to the Orthodox Jewish law that prohibited making images. At the precocious age of three, he showed his rebellious nature by drawing pictures of the models on signs in his father's grocery store. His artistic interest was later piqued by comic strips like George Herriman's "Krazy Kat" and Nell Brinkley's comic women in the New York World. He painted signs at P.S. 109 for school events, assignments that allowed him to be excused from "not-so-interesting classes, like gym, math, social studies, and English." Religious issues aside, his father argued that art was no way to make a living, and though he resigned himself to paying the $25 entrance fee for his son's night school classes at Pratt Institute, he did so only on condition that Paul attend Harren High in Manhattan during the day (Pioneers).

Neither of these schools offered Rand much stimulation. In later years, he particularly criticized the teachers at Pratt who made a point of ignoring

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