Creative Titans: How Paula Scher Helped Shape Graphic DesignApril 15, 2014 - by Matt Cannon
Paula Scher is an American graphic designer, painter, and illustrator and the first female principal at Pentagram. She studied at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and earned her BFA in 1970. She began her career as an art director in the 1970s, and over the years her work has been exhibited all over the world. She has remained at the forefront of graphic design and has paved the way for experienced and beginning designers alike.
Scher has created a large portfolio of globally recognized logos, maps, and posters. She has designed such memorable works as the logos for Citibank, CNN, and Windows 8. Her most notable work includes the new Windows 8 logo and the Office 2010 logo. She updated the iconic Windows logo by reimagining the four-color symbol as a modern shape that would provide a new eye-catching perspective on the beloved brand.
Her iconic work has spanned more than just the pages of Print. She has created a number of promotional graphics systems and the exterior artwork of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She masterfully displays type in 3D works of art and stated that the best piece of advice she ever received is to “illustrate with type.”
Scher has been the recipient of hundreds of honors and awards over the years. First Lady Michelle Obama recently presented Scher with a National Design Award. The First Lady also quoted Scher at the ceremony with “you have to misbehave to make breakthroughs.”
Scher believes in the philosophy that practice makes perfect. “It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good,” she has stated. As she put it, “it took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.”
Her eclectic approach to design and typography continues to shape contemporary designs today. Her philosophy is that all that matters is how the user perceives the design. Whether the design takes seconds or months to come to fruition, all that is important is that the design is a success.
Scher continues to design impressive works through Pentagram, where she has served as partner since 1991. She also continues to pursue her passion of painting and designing complicated large-scale maps. In addition, she continues to teach design students through inspirational speeches, courses, and TED talks.