If Pentagram’s partners were constrained by functional titles, Paula Scher might well be (part time) its Director of Identity Design. We know her best for her 1999 Citi mark, and more recently for the 2010 rebranding of Bausch + Lomb. She has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York for 19 years, and currently teaches a graduate course on identity design. We will welcome her contributions to Identity Forum.
For over three decades Paula Scher has been at the forefront of graphic design. Iconic, smart and unabashedly populist, her images have entered into the American vernacular.
Scher has been a principal in the New York office of the distinguished international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991. She began her career as an art director in the 970’s and early 80’s, when her eclectic approach to typography became highly influential. In the mid-1990s her landmark identity for The Public Theater fused high and low into a wholly new symbology for cultural institutions, and her recent architectural collaborations have re-imagined the urban landscape as a dynamic environment of dimensional graphic design.
Her graphic identities for Citibank and Tiffany & Co. have become case studies for the contemporary regeneration of classic American brands. Scher has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a broad range of clients that includes, among others, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Bausch and Lomb, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the New 42nd Street, the New York Botanical Garden, the Robin Hood Foundation and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. In 1996 Scher’s widely imitated identity for the Public Theater won the coveted Beacon Award for integrated corporate design strategy. She serves on the board of The Public Theater, and is a frequent design contributor to The New York Times, GQ and other publications. In 2006 she was named to the Design Commission of the City of New York.
During the course of her career Scher has been the recipient of hundreds of industry honors and awards. In 1998 she was named to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and in 2000 she received the prestigious Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. She has served on the national board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and was president of its New York chapter from 1998 to 2000. In 2001 she received the profession’s highest honor, the AIGA Medal, in recognition of her distinguished achievements and contributions to the field. In 2006 she was awarded the Type Directors Club Medal. She is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich; the Denver Art Museum; and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Scher holds a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and a Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. She has lectured and exhibited all over the world, and her teaching career includes over two decades at the School of Visual Arts, along with positions at the Cooper Union, Yale University and the Tyler School of Art. She has authored numerous articles on design-related subjects for the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, Print, Graphis, and other publications, and in 2002 Princeton Architectural Press published her career monograph Make It Bigger.