Paula Scher is one of the most acclaimed graphic designers in the world. She has been a principal in the New York office of the distinguished international design consultancy
Pentagram since 1991, where she has designed identity and branding systems, environmental graphics, packaging and publications for a wide range of clients that includes, among others, Citibank, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Shake Shack, the Museum of Modern Art, Tiffany & Co, the High Line, the Public Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the Sundance Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
— The Logo Creative™ ✏ (@thelogocreative) August 8, 2018
During the course of her career, Scher has been the recipient of hundreds of industry honors and awards; she is a recipient of the National Design Award for Communication Design, the AIGA medal and the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, among others. Scher has served on the Public Design Commission of the City of New York from 2006 to 2015. She is an established artist exhibiting worldwide, and her designs are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Library of Congress, the Victoria and Albert Museum and other institutions.
She is the author of “Make It Bigger” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002) “MAPS” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) and “Works” (Unit Editions, 2017). Scher holds a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and a Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art and MooreCollege of Art and Design. A documentary on her and her work can be seen in the 2017 Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design.
The Logo Creative – Hi Paula, It is an absolute pleasure to feature you in our designer interviews.
Paula Scher – Hi Andrew I’m happy to participate.
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Paula Scher – In my sophomore year at the Tyler School of Art, I took a graphic design class and found that it was a field about ideas. And I had ideas.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Paula Scher – I work with my team, prepare and give presentations, meet with clients, and send a ton of emails.
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Paula Scher – I am now a morning person. I get up around 6:30am every day. I used to be a night owl because I’d stay up watching movies, but now I can do that at any time.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Paula Scher – A logo for a special division of Epic Records.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logo you have designed?
Paula Scher – Probably the High Line as a pure logo. It’s simple and clean and conveys its message. I also like my recent logo for Houzz.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logos of all time?
Paula Scher – The CBS eye.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Paula Scher – Generally, I sketch things based on letterforms or objects, or a combination of the two. For example, the High Line references an ‘H’ and a railroad track; Houzz is an ‘H’ and a house.
The Logo Creative – What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
Paula Scher – The Public Theatre because it’s been going on for twenty-five years.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Paula Scher – 1 day or 1 year. The process varies and the amount of time is dependent on the various individuals involved. it doesn’t matter how long something takes. all that matters is how the end user perceives the design.
The Logo Creative – What are you recommended design books to read?
Paula Scher – Dada by Laurent Le Bon, Dutch Graphic Design by C Broos and Paul Hefting, El Lissitzky edited by Frank Lubbers, Futurism and Futurisms by Pontus Hultén, High & Low by Kirk Varnedoe and Adam Gopnik, John Heartfield by David Evans, Label Design by Claude Humbert, Le Livre futuriste by Giovanni Lista, Letter and Image by Robert Massin, Malevich by Larisa Zhadova, Picabia by Maria Lluïsa Borrás, Prague-New York by Ladislav Sutnar, Révolution typographique by Jacques Damase, Robert Smithson by Eugenie Tsai, The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910-1934 by Margit Rowell, Typoésie by Jérôme Peignot, Word and Image: Posters from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art by Alan Fern…
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Paula Scher – I prefer simple logos because you can do complicated things with them.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Paula Scher – Past failures because they teach me what not to do.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Paula Scher – Painting. I paint very complicated large scale maps
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Paula Scher – The biggest challenges are always large groups of people who can’t make decisions.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job as a designer?
Paula Scher – The best is designing; the worst is my own mediocrity.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Paula Scher – I have a bunch of inspirations: all of my partners and the designers at Pentagram, my husband Seymour Chwast, my friends at AGI.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite graphic designer and why?
Paula Scher – Some of them are in the books above.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Paula Scher – A visual means to make things recognizable and understandable.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Paula Scher – I had to make many sacrifices on the way. In the beginning, in particular, I invested a lot of time and money into my career.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Paula Scher – I would’ve liked to have been born later so that I was more computer savvy. But not at a period when software updates all of the time. So maybe I have no regrets after all.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Paula Scher – Stay out of the sun.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Paula Scher – My teacher Stanislaw Zagorski told me to “illustrate with type.”
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Paula Scher – Keep it simple. Make it smart.
Also published on Medium.