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Paul Rand

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Paul Rand: Graphic Designer

15 August 1914 -- 26 November 1996

by Michael Kroeger

Part One -- Entire Interview -- Wednesday 08 February 1995 -- 09:00 am

I studied with Paul Rand in Brissago, Switzerland in the summer of 1981. I was happy to talk with him briefly during his visit to Arizona State University in early February 1995. The topic were varied but we came back to design and an article I was working on at the time called Graphic Design Education Fundamentals.

Part of these talks had to do with graphic design, design philosophy and design education. The following excerpts are from these meetings.

(Paul and Marion Rand, and Mookesh Patel enter my office. The location is in the School of Art at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona)

Paul Rand: This little girl that came to see me on the FedEx, all she had to do is make this blue, so she could see it. Here they had the opportunity to eliminate one vertical and they did not. What would they do with all one color, there is no reason to split this, also there is a lot of letters. So they could use condensed letters and make it a lot more compact. Other than that it is great. It is very easy to make something good out of this but this ain't good.

Michael Kroeger: They have the F jammed into the lower case e.

Rand: That is not so bad. Then you have these styles mixed, which is ridiculous. You do not mix type faces. It's stupid. That is mannerism, trendy stuff, doing it because someone else is doing it. The only reason to do it.

Am I being recorded?

Kroeger: You're on, you are going to be famous.

I brought in a couple of the books that you recommended.

Rand: Oh yes, this book is familiar.

Kroeger: I started reading the first chapter (John Dewey -- Art as Experience, Perigee Books, New York, 1934, 1980).

Rand: You did? That is pretty good? How long did it take?

Kroeger: Well a couple of pages each night. It doesn't go real fast. Maybe there is something in there that we could bring up this afternoon with the students. Such as philosophy, or developing a graphic design philosophy.

Rand: Well you are the teacher, you bring it up.

Kroeger: I will bring it up. This other one we talked about. (Charles van Doren -- A History of Knowledge, Ballantine Books, New York, 1991)

Rand: This is very good, a summery, and very knowledgeable. It is not just a guy who abbreviates things, the guy writes novels. He is the guy who was caught in 1964 on 20 Questions -- The Quiz Show.

Kroeger: Was that his father?

Rand: His father was a famous teacher at Columbia University. This is nothing special, just general knowledge.

Kroeger: Good information for the students.

Rand: They should know about these things. It is a good book to have, a good reference book. But if you are going to start a bibliography you have got a lot of books.

Kroeger: You said during your lecture the other night that you have six pages of references in your latest book.

Rand: Yes.

Kroeger: Is this John Dewey book in there.

Rand: That is one of the books. Well, you are just not an educated designer unless you read this book or the equivalent. You are just not educated. I mean, you just don't know.

Kroeger: He talks about, in the first chapter, the artistic and aesthetic approach intertwined. He said he could not find a word that combined both of those terms. Talking about the aesthetics of art.

Rand: Well you can talk about it, there is a lot to talk about. This first chapter I think on the very first page he says:

By one of the ironic perversities that often attend the course of affairs, the existence of the works of art upon which formations of an esthetic theory depends has become an obstruction to theory about them. For one reason, these works are products that exist externally and physically. In common conception, the work of art is often identified with the building, book, painting, or statue in its existence apart from human experience. Since the actual work of art is what the product does with and in experience, the result is not favorable to understanding. In addition, the very perfection

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