At the age of 87 Wim Crouwel must be the doyen of Graphic Design. Born in Groningen in the Netherlands in 1928, he graduated from The Groningen Academy of Art. He never really considered himself an artist as he had worked all his life as a graphic designer. When he started in graphic design, Holland did not have any design agencies. Most of the large design work was sent outside the country. He and a couple of colleagues started Total Design. The agency won all the big Dutch contracts and were heavily supported by the Dutch Government.
Crowel worked in many Dutch art schools and universities but he is best known for his work for The Stedelijk Museum. He developed a particular style for the artists’ exhibitions held there. He never used images of the work but instead tried to represent the essence of the artist typographically and with blocks of colour.
He is best known for his New Alphabet which he claims was never intended for use. It is almost abstract, made up of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Crowel worked within a grid system giving his work an angular aspect.
He also designed the Dutch stamps which are iconic. Other countries use images of politicians, royalty or wildlife but Crowel used his clean simple grid style on his philately.
Rand was born in 1914, in Brooklyn, to Jewish immigrant parents(1). He was interested in art and design from a very young age. He attended several art colleges but claimed that he was a self taught designer. This was because he believed that he had not learned to create his designs in these institutions. Simplicity was important to Rand so he changed his foreign sounding Jewish name to Paul Rand.
When he started to work as a part time stock image creator, in a syndicate, publicity and advertising material was fussy and packed with words(2). It was believed that the publicity for something should tell you as much as possible about the product it was advertising. Rand was deeply influenced by what was being done in Europe at the time. His idea was that the product was one part of the story and the publicity material another. The publicity design or logo would become associated with the product in time but should be its own story.
His corporate branding set benchmarks for impact and efficacy, most notably the eight-bar IBM logo (1972) and black ABC circle with white Herbert Bayer-like font (1962), both of which are still in use.(3)
Rand had four principals for good design(4).
- A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
- The only mandate in logo design is that they be distinctive, memorable and clear
- Presentation is key
- Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations
In a three part interview (1 – 3) Rand explains how he worked to create his famous logos. Once he was happy with the final design he would present to the company sometimes with an explanatory brochure but often without. When he presented his final design to one company representative he was asked if he had any other examples from which the representative could choose. Rand replied that he did not because as far as he was concerned he had worked hard to produce the example he had presented and that it was his best and final design for that particular product.
Rand recounted the time when UPS was celebrating the 30th anniversary of his famous logo they asked him if he would like to attend. He said he would like to change the original design. They refused and the logo remained as it was. The interviewer asked what he would have liked to change. He said he never liked the fact that the shield had a pointed end. He would have preferred a rounded end but he knew this would have resembled a pocket which he did not want. Also he felt the bow should have been more angular.
Lazlo-Moly described Rand as follows(8):
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.”
- Famous Graphic Designers. 2016. Paul Rand | Biography, Designs and Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.famousgraphicdesigners.org/paul-rand. [Accessed 06 August 2016].
- WIRED: WIRED. 2016. Paul Rand, the Visionary Who Showed Us That Design Matters | WIRED. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wired.com/2015/04/paul-rand-visionary-showed-us-design-matters/. [Accessed 05 August 2016]
- The Guardian. 2016. Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand review – short survey of a master | Art and design | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/feb/27/everything-is-design-the-work-of-paul-rand-review-short-survey-of-a-master. [Accessed 05 August 2016].
- The Creative Edge. 2016. 4 principles by Paul Rand that may surprise you – Designer Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: https://99designs.ie/blog/creative-inspiration/4-principles-by-paul-rand-that-may-surprise-you/. [Accessed 05 August 2016].
- YouTube. 2016. interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 1 of 3 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta4ef1xBeMA. [Accessed 05 August 2016].
- YouTube. 2016. Interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 2 of 3 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxiDNdM2-bM. [Accessed 05 August 2016].
- YouTube. 2016. Interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 3 of 3 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bA1LdQknbk. [Accessed 05 August 2016].
- Dominic Flask. 2016. Paul Rand : Design Is History. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.designishistory.com/1960/paul-rand/. [Accessed 05 August 2016].