[P]aula Scher is an American graphic designer, painter and art educator in design, and the first female principal at Pentagram, which she joined in 1991.

Scher moved to New York City and took her first job as a layout artist for Random House’s children’s book division. In 1972, she was hired by CBS Records to the advertising and promotions department. After two years, she left CBS Records to pursue a more creative endeavor at a competing label, Atlantic Records, where she became the art director, designing her first album covers. A year later Scher returned to CBS as an art director for the cover department.

During her eight years at CBS Records, she is credited with designing as many as 150 album covers a year. Some of those iconic album cover designs are Boston (Boston), Eric Gale (Ginseng Woman), Leonard Bernstein (Poulenc Stranvinsky), Bob James (H), Bob James and Earl Klugh (One on One), Roger Dean and David Howells (The Ultimate Album Cover Album) and Jean-Pierre Rampal and Lily Laskin (Sakura: Japanese Melodies for Flute and Harp).

Her designs were recognized with four Grammy nominations. She is also credited with reviving historical typefaces and design styles.

She left Atlantic Records to work on her own in 1982. Scher developed a typographic solution based on Art Deco and Russian constructivism, which incorporated outmoded typefaces into her work. The Russian constructivism had provided Scher inspiration for her typography; she didn’t copy the early constructivist style but used its vocabulary of form on her works.

In 1991, after the studio suffered from the recession and Koppel took the position of Creative Director at Esquire magazine, Scher began consulting and joined Pentagram as a partner in the New York office. Since then, she has been a principal at the New York office of the Pentagram design consultancy.

In 1994, Scher was the first designer to create a new identity and promotional graphics system for The Public Theater, a program that become the turning point of identity in designs that influence much of the graphic design created for theatrical promotion and for cultural institutions in general. Listen to her amazing speech on creativity and breaking through.

Sometimes you have to ignore the brief, says renowned designer and artist Paula Scher. With a dry wit, Scher takes us behind-the-scenes on four landmark projects — from revamping MoMA’s identity to reinvigorating a Pittsburgh neighborhood through design — to illustrate how asking questions, pushing into uncharted territory, and doing something you’ve never done before leads to great work.

Lauren Martin
Just another girl in the world...and founder of Words of Women

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