Paula Scher graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania in 1970. She excelled at illustrating with type and learnt that it had meaning and spirit. She moved to New York City to work and has become one of the cities most iconic designers. Scher has lectured and exhibited world wide and has hundreds of international design awards. This includes two decades at the School of Visual Arts.
Her first serious work came out of the fact that she despised ‘Helvetica’ and thought it to be the
cleanest, most boring,fascistic and repressive typeface.
Paula has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a wide range of clients. Drawing from what Tom Wolfe has called the “big closet” of art and design history, classic and pop iconography, literature, music and film, Paula creates images that speak to contemporary audiences with emotional impact and appeal. Three decades into her career, these images have come to be visually identified with the cultural life of New York City.
Paula Scher reportedly sketched this logo on to a napkin in a few seconds. When asked how a huge multi national company like Citibank can base their entire identity on a design that’s been done in one second, Paula answered that it’s a second done in thirty four years. Most of her best ideas have come to her in a taxi ride but her years of experience as a designer enable this to happen.
The Citigroup had changed their name to Citi, following the $140 billion merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group, and severely needed a new corporate identity. They approached Pentagram – one of the world’s leading brand consulting firms – and during a client meeting, Scher made her initial sketch of the Citi logo on a napkin in a few seconds.
The red-arched Citi logo with the shortened four letter word makes a more catchy and instantly recognizable brandmark. One the other hand, the red arc over the letter “t” brilliantly embodies the Travelers umbrella and the merger of both brands into one.
Colors of the Citibank Logo
While the red color in the Citibank logo symbolizes passion, joy, acceptance and determination of the company, the blue color stands for its dominance, excellence, approachability and elegance.
Font of the Citibank Logo
The Citibank logo features a handwritten typeface.
Tiffany and Co Logo and Branding
For Scher, a big part of the process was to consolidate and change certain practices in Tiffany’s manufacturing. Scher eliminated Tiffany’s glossy shopping bags, which affected the perception of the company’s blue when struck by light, in favor of a bag with a more consistent matte finish. The inside of Tiffany’s famous blue boxes was dyed blue, so the interior and exterior worked together.
To deal with the issues of photography and typography, the final system features a large swath of blue and retains the logo at a small scale, while the typography looks like it was done on a letterpress. To make the blue stand out, the Tiffany’s art directors used a large portion of white in the background in sharp contrast to the blue. If they had any other colored backgrounds, it would start to get very tricky and look less expensive.
The Public Theatre
In 1994, Paula Scher was the first designer to create a new identity and promotional graphics system for The Public Theater, a program that become the turning point of identity in designs that influence much of the graphic design created for theatrical promotion and for cultural institutions in general.
Based on the challenge to raise public awareness and attendance at the Public Theater along with trying to appeal to a more diverse crowd, Scher created a graphic language that reflected street typography and graffiti-like juxtapostion. In 1995, Paula Scher and her Pentagram team created promotional campaigns for The Public Theater’s production of Savion Glover’s Bring in’Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk that featured the wood typefaces used throughout The Public Theater’s identity. Scher was inspired by Rob Ray Kelly’s American Wood Types and the Victorian theater’s poster when she created the cacophony of disparate wood typefaces, silhouetted photographs and bright flat colors for the theater’s posters and billboard. Scher limited her colors to two or three while highlighted the play’s title and theater logo that surrounded the tap artist in a typographical be-bop. The design was to appeal to a broad audience from the inner cities to the outer boroughs, especially those who hadn’t been attracted to theater.
Scher was the first female principle at design agency Pentagram with offices around the world. Some of her logo work includes Citibank, the New York Ballet, CNN, Windows 8, Tiffany & Co, Moma and Highline.