Bruce Mau is an influential Canadian designer who has left a strong mark on the landscape of Canadian design in the past few decades. Growing up, he planned to become a scientist, but a one year arts program at Sudbury Secondary School helped introduce him to design. He had to take apart and refurbish a vintage, single color printer, which he then used to print a four color print, taking it apart again for each new color. His formal art education began at Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), but he left before graduating to work at the design firm Fifty Fingers.
After a few years at Fifty Fingers, Mau spent a year at Pentagram in London. When he returned to Canada, he founded Public Good Design and Communications, which eventually led to the shoot-off Bruce Mau Design (BMD), which he ran for more than twenty years as creative director. Here, he expanded his practice, working with architecture, film, wayfinding, and various other avenues. One of Mau’s most famous projects was to design Zone 1/2, a massive book on urbanism from contemporary critical thinkers.
In 1998, Mau produced one of his most well known works, a 43 point long program called Manifesto for Growth, which aims to help creatives improve the way they think about and do their work. In 2003, Mau founded Institute Without Boundaries, a design program at George Brown University. In 2010 he founded the Massive Change Network, along with his wife, Bisi Williams. Since 2015, Mau has been working as the chief design officer at Freeman, a worldwide design company.
Michael Vanderbyl is a multidisciplinary designer who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area. His education came full circle, as he has now worked for 30 years, teaching at the California College of the Arts, where he graduated. Today, he serves as the Dean of Design at CCA.
His career has been influential because he helped to establish the San Francisco Bay area as a centre for the postmodernist movement during the 70s and 80s. Vanderbyl’s work spans many different disciplines, and his lasting legacy is his ability to merge different design forms through his work. In 1973 he founded Vanderbyl Design. Through his studio he’s done traditional graphic design, furniture design, product design, and interior design for showrooms and retail space. His work is varied and expressive, with a wide range of styles and applications.
Vanderbyl’s work has been recognized countless times by various contests and organizations. Some of his most memorable awards are his AIGA Medal, awarded in 2000, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Interior Design Association in 2006. His work is displayed in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Denver Art Museum, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and Library of Congress.
Paula Scher has cemented herself as one of the world’s most talented and influential graphic designers of all time. Her career began in high school, where she discovered a love for art and acted as the “Publicity Chairman,” creating posters and brochures for events and dances.
From her first job working at CBS records, to starting her own agency only a few years later, Scher’s career took off very quickly. Her most well known work has been done in the years since 1991, when she became a partner at Pentagram.
Her work at Pentagram has included many brand identities, like the famous one for the Public Theater, one of her ongoing clients. She’s also redesigned identities for the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. Her redesign of the Citi logo took only a few seconds to create.
Another, perhaps lesser known aspect of Scher’s work is her innovative use of supergraphics. Supergraphics in design are defined as large scale graphics, typography, and imagery on walls or other large surfaces. With a wide array of applications including way finding, education, and interior decoration, they are an exciting, if not extremely challenging media for designers to work in. Scher’s supergraphics works include the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre, for which she says she “redrew the building in typography.” She’s also done supergraphics for the PAVE Academy Charter School, which helped to establish a voice and brand for the school, while brightening the interior and inspiring students.
Waldemar Swierzy was born in Katowice, Poland, in 1931. His art career began early, as he was one of the youngest graduates of the Cracow Academy of Fine Art’s Faculty of Graphic Arts, where he started studying at the age of 15!
After completing his education he began working at the Arts and Graphic Arts Publishing House (WAG). This was an important centre for poster design. Here, Swierzy helped push the boundaries and rules of design. Besides becoming one of the most important Polish poster artists ever, he designed book illustrations, record jackets, calendars, and stamps. He was also tasked with designing the Polish pavilion for several international world fairs including New York, Beijing, Vienna, Poznan, and Casablanca.
In 1965, Swierzy began teaching at the National College of Fine Arts in Poznan. In 1987, he became a full professor. Throughout this time he gave guest lectures at foreign universities in Havana, Mexico, West Berlin, and Kassel. Swierzy became a member of the AGI in 1966. Today, his works can be found all over the world in museums like the Institute of Contemporary Art (London), Kunstbibliothek (Berlin), Hermitage (St. Petersburg), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), National Museum (Poznan), and the Poster Museum (Wilanow).
There is relatively little information about Swierzy’s personal life, aside from his career achievements. Due to this fact, I thought I would take a little extra space to explore his artistic style and my personal thoughts on it. A strong focus on portraiture was consistent throughout Swierzy’s career. His portraits are dynamic and full of movement. Never, static, he often used his expert handling of various medias to his advantage in creating portraits that seem to jump off the page. Like many other artists of his time, Swierzy loved bright, bold colours. Something I appreciate about Swierzy, is that unlike many other artists working in the 60’s, his art doesn’t seem to age. In my opinion, this is due to the strong understanding of design principles that he put to use in all his works.
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
Paul Rand was born in New York City in 1914 to Jewish parents. He would eventually take on the name Paul Rand in an effort to somewhat conceal his very Jewish given name – Peretz Rosenbaum. A true modernist, Rand’s brought Swiss design principles to the United States, and created some of the most iconic pieces of graphic design we have today. His skill, hard work, and philosophy effectively changed the way graphic design functions as an industry, and created a pathway for emerging designers to follow.
As a kid, Rand painted signs for his father’s grocery shop, as well as for his school. Under pressure from his father, he attended high school while taking night classes at Pratt Institute. Rand claimed that he learned “nothing” at Pratt, and so is widely regarded to be self-taught. Graphic design education didn’t really exist at this time, so Rand learned mostly from European magazines Commercial Arts and Gebrauchsgrafik, where he was introduced to Bauhaus ideas and styles. He later went on to study at Parsons School of Design and the Art Student’s League.
Rand’s early work was illustrative, and freelance. His first “regular” job was for Apparel Arts magazine, where he was given quite free reign to experiment on unique covers. His unique skill for composition and design was recognized quickly and he was then appointed art director for Esquire magazine at the tender age of 23. When one of the senior partners at Esquire left the company to create Weintraub creative agency, Rand followed and became the agency’s new art director.
Rand achieved huge amounts of success at Weintraub, eventually earning twice the pay for half the amount of time he was working before. His distinctive designs required intelligence from the viewer, but were widely popular and well – known. He used simple, sans serif fonts (usually Futura) as well as his own handwriting.
Paul Rand is perhaps best known for his work on logos, for the notable companies IBM, ABC, UPS, and Ford, among others. His philosophy with logo design was that they did not need to “create” the meaning of the brand, but convey what they company was already known for.
It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning.
Rand’s logos were simple, and not because he aimed strictly for that end, but because he was aware of what he wanted to communicate. He said that logos should aim to convey one idea only, more than that would confuse the message.
Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.
Upon their first meeting, Lázló Maholy-Nagy asked Rand if he read art criticism. When Rand said he did not, Maholy-Nagy replied, “Pity.” From then on, Rand consumed art criticism and philosophy books at a rapid pace. He developed his own theories of graphic design and published them in numerous books.
Rand’s impact on the design world has been to nearly revolutionize the way it operates. Not only did he embrace modernist design, he introduced the iconic art director and copywriter combination when he began working with Bill Bernbach at Weintraub agency. He also famously presented his logo clients with presentation books that showed the choices he made when creating the logo, and their relevance to the final deliverable. This practice, which has now become standard, was at the time new and surprising. His logo booklets not only showed his process, but contained information on color, typography, form, and symbolism.
Paul Rand continued working hard until his death at the age of 82. The legacy he ultimately left changed graphic design forever. Through his lifetime, he received awards from the American Institution of Graphic Arts, the Art Director’s Club of New York, an honorary doctorate from Philadelphia College of Art, and was inducted into the New York Art Director’s Hall of Fame in 1972.