by Zohra KhanFeb 02, 2021
Graphic designer, painter and art educator Paula Scher’s work embodies the spirit of New York. It is loud, urban, evocative and proud. It is in your face and it is everywhere, you know it and you embrace it - be it her design of corporate brand logos for Citibank and Tiffany & Co. that people all over the world recognise with the blink of an eye, the roaring posters for the historic Public Theatre productions, or the collection of iconic record covers from 70s that still remind how cool that decade was.
While her professional work is 'reductive' and often defined by an all-embracing sensibility, her personal work reveals a synthesis of what she calls 'too much information'. The latter comes together in her colourful, typographic paintings of world maps that reflect the inexhaustible spirit of the 72-year-old trailblazer who believes she is yet to do her best work.
You have to respond to things by moving the noise away. – Paula Scher
Often cited as the goddess of graphic design and a master conjurer of the instantly familiar, Scher is globally feted for a career that spans over 40 years. A partner at the New York office of international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991, her work comprises design of brand identities, environmental graphics, packaging and publication.
Speaking with STIR, the passionate New Yorker shares how she addresses noise in her creative practice, what inspires, nags and intimidates her, and how does she overcome a mental block.
In the 10-minute conversation, Scher looks back at growing up years, recollects thrill of her first job as a record cover artist, and reflects on the crossroads ahead when a transition in her interest from illustration to type design landed her at Pentagram.
She relays stories of projects where politics determined the result of her works and talks about the various voices that have inspired her through the way. She also reminisces the time when at the age of 50 while ‘trapped in those Citibank meetings’ was when she felt she was losing her creative edge and fondly reveals how she bounced back to recapture the lost time.
To stir creativity, Scher upholds looking at a lot of books, stimulation by long walks, or allowing herself to do nothing. “Ideas come in all kinds of ways. I get my best ideas when I am stuck in traffic,” she says.
She continues, “One needs to be in a state of play to design. I generally push something as far as it can be pushed. For me, that’s the fun".
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STIR X Kyoorius Designyatra 2020: Conversations About Your Voice
The 2020 edition of Kyoorius Designyatra (#KDY20) themed around ‘Your Voice’ caught many stellar creatives from the world of design and visual arts in a moment of self-reflection. As #KDY20 Exclusive Media Partner, STIR spoke with design luminaries Paula Scher, Seymour Chwast, Hyesu Lee, Frank de Ruwe, and Anita Fontaine to know what it takes to live one’s voice. To know more, click here.