The Picasso of Graphic Design

“Typography is an art. Good typography is art”  Paul Rand 1914-96

The image below is from a series of exercises early in my Design studies, using 2D imagery to portray one of the heros of graphic design. In this case, I used a photograph of the typographer Paul Rand over a collage of colour and type.

The Picasso of Graphic Design, Paul Rand placed high value on proficiency in the basic principles of lettering. In his hands typography is the vehicle for communication, both ‘verbal’ and expressive. Font is the image. Rather than being given a supporting role to the image, typography is the star in Paul Rand’s work. Typography is an art, according to Rand, a rich, practical skill and an expressive aesthetic element invaluable to design. 

With the knowledge that you only have a split second to capture someone’s attention, Rand’s concern was with creating images that snared people’s eyes, penetrated their minds, warmed their hearts and made them act (George Lois). Rand viewed type as the irresistibly compelling basic building block of design.

Typography as graphic expression is an active and emotional element going beyond the purely aesthetic and informative. In Rand’s vocabulary based graphic design the choice of typeface could direct the meaning itself. It has been said that typography can shout or whisper. The letters themselves speak. In this way typography is both the image and the message, both content and form, art and entertainment. Good typography is art.


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