“Paula Scher is the most influential woman graphic designer on the planet,” says a recent episode of Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design, and they’re not wrong. “It’s a tall claim,” says Unit Editions, which champions Paula in an upcoming book on the designer. “But irrespective of gender, Paula Scher is unparalleled in her ability to combine the commercial with the artistic; the pragmatic with the visionary; the smart with the emotive.”
Unit Editions’ monograph Paula Scher: Works is an up-to-date collection of the designer’s jaw-dropping career, who “in the fifth decade of her professional life, she is showing no inclination to slow down”. A designer, artist and partner at Pentagram, Paula works for big-wigs Microsoft and Bloomberg as well as cultural monarchs MoMA and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On top of this, she contributes to social projects for charities such as Planned Parenthood. Paula considers both her head and heart when designing.
The monograph, edited by Unit Editions’ editors Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook and designed by Spin and is a sequential graphic design portfolio. It begins during Paula’s early days in the music industry where she created record sleeves for Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, to the launch of her first studio Koppel & Scher, before starting with Pentagram, who she has worked for 25 years. Nestled between these career steps are highlights of the designer’s personal and more artistic work. Spin’s design of the book represents the difference in content and aesthetic of Paula’s projects. The spine of the book shows varying typographic styles, sans-serif and serif fonts composed so they sit against each other seamlessly.
“The book demonstrates how, through her innovative environmental graphics and identity design, Paula Scher’s work is woven into the fabric of New York City – from MoMA to Shake Shack; from the New York Times to the High Line.” The monograph additionally displays Paula’s socially and politically-motivated posters, “where subtle humour accompanies the designer’s bold sense of political outrage”.
Paula Scher: Works is completed with a lengthy interview with the designer discussing her formidable career. “Your understanding of design is like one long ongoing movie,” she says. “Your understanding of it depends on what point you walked into the movie. Whatever the culture of the times is, that’s what shapes how you view things.”
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