“Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.” – Paul Rand.
Paul Rand, graphic designer known as the father of the modern corporate icon and famous for the logos he created for IBM, Westinghouse, UPS, and ABC.
Rand was responsible for defining visual culture in America in the decades following World War II. He radically transformed advertising, blowing away the dust of the Depression era and pioneering a new, modern approach to selling products. He helped convince some of nation’s biggest corporations that good design was good business.
Born Peretz Rosenbaum in Brooklyn, New York in 1914. As Orthodox Jewish law forbids the creation of graven images that can be worshiped as idols, Rand’s career creating icons venerated in the temple of global capitalism seemed as unlikely as any. It was one that he embraced at a very young age, painting signs for his father’s grocery store. Rand’s father did not believe art could provide his son with a sufficient livelihood, and so he required Paul to attend Manhattan’s Harren High School while taking night classes at the Pratt Institute, though “neither of these schools offered Rand much stimulation to Design.” Despite studying at Pratt and other institutions in the New York area including Parsons School of Design and the Art Students League, Rand was by-and-large “self-taught as a designer, learning about the works of Cassandre and Moholy-Nagy from European magazines such as ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’.”
His career began with humble assignments, starting with a part-time position creating stock images for a syndicate that supplied graphics to various newspapers and magazines. Indisputably, Rand’s most widely known contribution to graphic design are his corporate identities, many of which are still in use. IBM, ABC, Cummins Engine, Westinghouse, and UPS, among many others, owe their graphical heritage to him, though UPS recently carried out a controversial update to the classic Rand design.