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Paul Rand and His Role in Modern Graphic Design Theory Research Paper


Paul Rand was born in the year 1914 and died in the year 1996. He became very popular for his exceptional skills in graphic design (Meggs & Purvis, 2011). He joined the Pratt Institute in the late 1920’s and graduated in the year 1932. Thereafter, he joined the Parsons School of Design. Rand completed his studies at the Art Students League in the year 1935.

The renowned Swiss Style of graphic design is attributed to him. Between the 1950s and 1970s, he became a lecturer at Yale University. He later joined the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame during the early 1970s. Rand created a number of placards and business identities. He succumbed to cancer in the year 1996. This article focuses on the Rand’s works and highlights his contributions to the field of graphic design.

Rand’s works were greatly influenced by his cultural and social background. Orthodox Jewish decrees prohibit making graven images because they perceive it as an act of worshiping idols. Rand, however, embraced art at a very tender age. He began painting signs for his parents’ grocery store and major school proceedings.

His father did not consider art as an ideal career for his son. He therefore sent him to Manhattan’s Harren High School. Despite his education, he never benefitted much from the school work. He learned and perfected the arts of design by himself, analyzing the works of renowned designers such as Cassandre and Moholy-Nagy during his spare time.

His profession began with modest assignments (Meggs & Purvis, 2011). He started with an amateur position, designing stock images for an organization that delivered graphics to various media houses. His early works were informed by the German marketing style and works of Gustav Jensen. During his early twenties, he was designing works that garnered global approval.

Undeniably, Rand’s renowned advance in graphic design is his commercial distinctiveness which is often still being utilized. IBM Poster, AIGA book cover, Graphic Arts 50 Books, Cummins Engine, and DADA book cover are obliged to his creativity (Meggs & Purvis, 2011).

Three of the most interesting works have been illustrated below. IBM logo is a celebrated piece of art amid his commercial works. In this work, Rand employed visual pun to persuade, inform, and entertain his audience. In AIGA book cover, Rand implied that as far as possible, every design ought to be interesting and educational (Meggs & Purvis, 2011). This cover-up design for the American Institute of Graphic Arts periodical is based on an image pun.

In Graphic Arts 50 Books, the author illustrated that the efficiency of a design had been often reliant on a minute visual prompt. This is obvious in the blueprint for a file for the American Institute of Graphic Arts 50 Books (Meggs & Purvis, 2011). To put across an extra persuasive concept on a bookshelf, the red figures are slanted. In the original design, his work can be subdivided into three key components. This is the function of wit, representation in image communication, and the rebus in the image pun.

Although Rand was a loner in his imaginative process, he showed much interest to others’ works. Maholy-Nagy may perhaps have encouraged Rand’s passion for knowledge after he inquired if he had studied art criticism at their first gathering. Rand replied with a No. Moholy-Nagy told him that it was a pity that he had never done so.

From that time onwards, Rand read numerous publications written by renowned art philosophers. These intellectuals included Roger Fry, John Dewey, and Alfred Whitehead. The intellectuals’ works would later have a lasting influence on his works.

A learner will notice that Dewey’s pieces of arts influenced much of the designer’s work. For instance, on the first page of one of his famous books, he used the lines borrowed from Dewey’s philosophy (Meggs & Purvis, 2011).

Through this, he managed to emphasize the necessity for practical aesthetic perfection in contemporary art. Throughout his contributions, Rand championed for the need to design graphic arts able to sustain their familiar superiority after being distorted or disfigured. Another major person who had an influence on Rand is William Bernbach.

Rand was among the first of a long and eminent line of art administrators to perform with and be thankful for the exceptional ability of Bernbach. He described his initial meeting with Bernbach as inspiring and helpful as the Columbus’ first trip to the New World. He asserted that the initial meeting with the copywriter who comprehended visual thoughts gave him an idea of what a layout should be designed.

Unquestionably, the key philosophy that had a great impact on his career, and for this reason his long-lasting influence, is the modernist philosophy he valued so much. Rand commemorated the works of his fellow artists. As such, he continually tried to illustrate the link between their imaginative production and important relevance in graphic design. In one of his works named Designer’s Art, he clearly illustrated his admiration for the fundamental links.

The majority of modern designers acknowledge Rand’s victorious and convincing roles in the field of advertising design. What is not well recognized is his vital contribution in positioning the prototype for future advances in commercial advertising. Rand spent more than 14 years in the advertising industry (Meggs & Purvis, 2011).

Within the field, he established the significance of the art executive in marketing and aided in putting an end to the concept of isolation, which once bounded art. It is also worth noting that Rand admitted the fact that art has to do with various spheres of human life, including history, geography, psychology, technology, and marketing; however, it is a matter of form, not of content.

His works are worth studying because they provide an interesting and educative history of graphic design (Meggs & Purvis, 2011). Similarly, new graphic designers can gain a number of insights by studying his contributions and acknowledging them.

In spite of such his achievements as linking the imaginative production and important relevance in graphic design, he has been accused by his critics for being intransigent and unreceptive to innovative ideas in design. On the other hand, Heller supports his concepts and refers him as an opponent of mediocrity.

Despite the criticism, his role in modern graphic design theory is perceived more and more extensively inherent to the profession’s development. Equally, Rand’s renowned advances in graphic design are still being utilized in a number of commercial adverts.

References

Meggs, P. B., & Purvis, A. W. (2011). Meggs’ history of graphic design (5 ed.). Hoboken: J. Wiley & Sons.

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IvyPanda. "Paul Rand and His Role in Modern Graphic Design Theory." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/paul-rand/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Paul Rand and His Role in Modern Graphic Design Theory." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/paul-rand/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Paul Rand and His Role in Modern Graphic Design Theory'. 7 May.

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