Paula Sher, an American graphic designer and artist has a doctorate in Fine Arts from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington. According to Make it Bigger By Paula Scher, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002, Paula is widely known for her unique brands, promotional material as well as packaging designs that have attracted many customers and clients. Tom Wolfe describes Paula’s work as one sourced from ‘the big closet’ that is, created from a wide range of artistic culture like pop, literature, music film and classical origin. Her work depicts real emotions in modern world. Paula has designed logos for successful companies like CitiBank, Tiffany’s jewelry and the Oola candy store. Her creativity and success over the years has also earned her partnership with internationally recognized research firms like CBS and Atlantic records. She also worked with freelance companies and magazines gaining experience in corporate world, an opportunity that made her realize her business identity. Her initial breakthrough came when she had complete control over branding of the Oola candy company. Scher went against industry standards and gave a new look to the shop from its surrounding companies.
What makes her work unique? Paula understands the establishment of business and the common weakness of having too many people involved. She believes in individual effort, drive and personal motivation; hence works on intuition rather than demand. Her initial success with Oola candy shop design gave her a breakthrough in business as well as design and thereafter embarked on giving a philosophical touch to her work. Scher insists on emotion and purpose in her work, arguing that emotions change from time to time. (Heller and Fernandes, 277). She therefore, varies her styles as appropriately as opposed to a maintaining a single designing style. This ensures a steady flow of fresh ideas that are relevant to real time. To Paula, a successful designer should be able to evaluate their work every five years and change their style and design to suit the emotions of that period. This, she believes starts with change within the designer himself/herself in order to avoid the most dangerous mistake in design, which is repetition. (Tischler).
A typical example of her philosophical prowess in design is the Citibank logo which Paula drafted on a napkin during a meeting with the directors of the company. She believes that experience, rather than process is the best component of a successful design; hence everything that happens in one’s life and stored in memory is relevant in art. This, Paula says in her interview, is the primary difference between her work and that of other designers. (Hillmancurtist). It is therefore evident that there are no rules in her design, neither is there a right or wrong way of creating art. Some of her best designs have stemmed from simple strokes and did not demand much time to draft.
Susan Avarde, managing director, Global Branding for Citigroup describes Scher as uncompromising. In a field well dominated with men, Paula compensated herself with wit and insight, her main focus being making art that was good. She involves not just what she has learnt in school, but also believes that graphic art is highly subjective; hence confesses that her ways of construct are based on necessity and demand rather than process. The Wordsmith by Linda Tischler Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 8:14 AM.
As a unique graphic artist and one of the most flourishing women in the occupation, Paula has made impact using daily experience and emotions. She has diversified her work over time by understanding the demands of her clientele all over the world. A confident woman of technique and wit, standing out in a male dominated industry is Paula’s pride.
1. Hillmancurtist “Artist Series: Paula Scher” Online video clip. Paula Scher
Interview. Accessed on 28 October 2008
2. Paula Scher, Make It Bigger: Princeton Architecture Press, 2005
3. Heller Steven, and Teresa Fernandes, Becoming A Graphic Designer, 3rd edition, Hoboken, New Jersey
4. Meggs Phili, Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006