Designer Spotlight: Paula Scher

This Women’s History Month, we want to highlight a dynamite female graphic designer, Paula Scher. Born in Washington, DC, Scher is a graphic designer, painter, and art educator in design. She is currently principal at Pentagram design firm – and the first women principal at that!

Image via Pentagram

Her early career started with a job as a layout artist for Random House children’s books when she first moved to New York City. In 1972, she was brought on to CBS Records’ advertising and promotions department before she left for competing company, Atlantic Records, in 1974, where she became the art director and began designing her first album covers.

After leaving Atlantic Records to work on her own, Scher took an eclectic approach to typography which became extremely influential in design. She founded her own company, Koppel & Scher, with business partner Terry Koppel, before eventually landing as principal at Pentagram, where she remains today.

In 1994, Scher was the first designer to create a new identity and promotional graphics system for The Public Theater, a program that, according to Pentagram, influenced much of the graphic design created for theatrical promotion and for cultural institutions in general. Furthermore, her graphic identities for Citibank and Tiffany & Co. have become case studies for the contemporary regeneration of American brands.

In her time at Pentagram, Scher began teaching at SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York, along with positions at the Cooper Union, Yale University and the Tyler School of Art. She has received more than 300 awards from international design associations as well as a series of prizes from the American Institute of Graphic Design (AIGA), The Type Directors Club (NY), New York Art Directors Club and the Package Design Council.

Scher holds a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and honorary doctorates from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Moore College of Art and Design.

Author of two books, educator, and influential designer, there is no doubt that Paula Scher is someone to be celebrated. Check her out on Netflix in “Abstract: The Art of Design,” a documentary series about leading figures in design and architecture.

 

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