Paula Scher, if you haven’t heard of her and you’re a graphic designer then you’re obviously out of the loop on the graphic design world. Paula Scher is one of, if not the most influential and well-known female graphic designer in the world. She was born on October 6, 1948 in Washington, DC and earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design at Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania. She has worked in the design field for decades and during that time, she has planted a bold mark for herself with her unique, bold, and modern style of graphics.
Fresh out of college, Paula got her first design job as an assistant to the art director at CBS Records in the promotion and advertising department. She held the lowest position at the company and her job required a tremendous amount of approval signatures from everyone above her. The man who was 2 positions above her that was supposed to be there for her interview, wasn’t there, and never looked at her portfolio. He only ever knew she was going to work there the day before. As an effect, her skills as a graphic designer weren’t anything special to him and he never fully approved of any of her designs. The scenario of someone who was in the ranks to have the authority to approve or deny her designs, but was never properly consulted about hiring her and who doesn’t have an good understanding of the design world, is one that would follow Paula in the rest of her professional career.
As time passed and Paula gained more experienced, she realized that appearance that graphic design gave was different than it was originally meant to be, especially in corporations, institutions, and organizations that had more than one decision maker. She learned that in actuality, the original point or goal of a design is not as important as it’s supposed to be in situations like this, and humanity would rather depend on complicated hierarchical social situations vs the fundamental point of graphic design.
Paula continued to grow tremendously in the design field despite all of this. She was able to gather over 3 decades of experience in the field and placed herself at the forefront of the graphic design with her tremendous push for success and art. In her career, she developed different identities as well as packaging for a variety of clients and companies that are well known in the design world (such as The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg, Target, and much much more). Paula came to receive many awards in recognition of her triumphs in the design field. In 1998 she was added to the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. In 2000 she was given a prestigious award for her innovation in Design. In 2001 she was awarded the profession’s highest honor. On top of only SOME of these awards Paula received, her art was also presented in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Paula Scher is now 66 years old. During her time as an aspiring designer, she has travelled all over the world and gave lectures. She began teaching and has been doing that for over 2 decades now where she worked at the School of Visual Arts, as well as Cooper Union, Yale University, and the Tyler School of Art. Her book, Make It Bigger, is one that depicts her career and life as a graphic designer over the years as success follows her.
“The work needs to get out of your head and on to the table, and it needs to be done from the heart.”
“I quickly learned that the judgments made about graphic design in corporations, institutions, and organizations composed of more than one decision maker have little to do with the effectiveness of a given design in the marketplace and more to do with how human beings believed in complicated hierarchical social situations.”