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Paul Rand: A Designer's Art Paperback – 2 Feb 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (2 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300082827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300082821
  • Product Dimensions: 25.5 x 19.4 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,233,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Mr. Rand's work is distinguished for its ready wit and richness of reference . . . [He] describes his work with the same precision, economy, and passion he displays in his graphic designs, and he lets us understand the nature of his relationships with his clients, his audience, and his art." -- Alan Fern, New York Times Book Review

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First Sentence
Visual communications of any kind, whether persuasive or informative, from billboards to birth announcements, should be seen as the embodiment of form and function: the integration of the beautiful and the useful. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Paul Rand is internationally famous for his influence on design throughout the twentieth century and this book sums up a lot of his beliefs. Explained visually as well as literally he masterfully argues for a simple and clear design aesthetic.
This book is a must for anyone interested in design. Your knowledge will be increased and your visual sensitivity enhanced.
There are numerous black/white and colour plates which show you Rands meticulous and logical approach to design.
Buy it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A Designer's Inspiration 23 Jun. 2004
By Rich Stoehr - Published on
Format: Paperback
Reading Paul Rand's book "A Designer's Art" should be a source of inspiration for anyone who considers him- or herself a designer -- in any medium. At least, it was definitely an inspiration for me.

I didn't expect to get much out of it when I started it, frankly. Part of that feeling is attributable to the fact that I didn't know Rand's work as well as I should. I had heard the name, but did not know what he had done. As the book began, and I figured out that he is, in a large way, responsible for the corporate identity of some pretty big names (IBM, Westinghouse, and UPS among them), and is capable of working in multiple media, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, I found myself respecting him. As it continued and he showed himself to be not only a very creative designer, but also a thoughtful analyst and an excellent communicator, I found myself agreeing with most of what he had to say. As the book concluded, I found myself inspired in my own work by what he pointed out.

"A Designer's Art" is everything its title implies... it is about good design and it is about compelling art. The two, while not necessarily the same, are definitely fused together in many ways. Artistic disciplines and methods and trends affect design work to a large extent, while principles of good design can also be applied to the basic creative process one goes through when making a more purely artistic endeavour.

Particularly compelling in this regard was the chapter near the end of the book, about the benefits of the "play instinct" and how it applies to design. By discussing several games and ways of playing with visual relationships, such as tangrams, tatami (the arranging of floor mats), Le Corbusier's "Modulor," and the creation of Chinese characters, Rand discusses several games and how they can be used in the design process, either in the solution for a specific problem, or as tasks in and of themselves. These "games" help to teach the designer to look at visual presentations in a different way, to see tired concepts in a new light, and to use originality to think their way around a problem. Like directed play does for children, visual games help to discipline the mind to see through what is presented and into an original way of looking at the same thing. "The student learns to conceptualize, to associate, to make analogies," he says. "To see a sphere, for example, transformed into an orange, or a button into a letter, or a group of letters into a broad picture."

Also very interesting was his discussion of the color black, reclaiming it for new audiences and new purposes, and his thoughts on including a sense of humor or wit in your designs. His conclusion is where I really came to admire this book, though, as he relies on the words of one of his employers: "Good design at heart is simply honesty. It is an ingredient of character. Good design helps to form in any one part of the business an influence that affects all part of the business. It sustains character and honesty in every part of the business. Good design, therefore, is very good business indeed." It's a good thought to take away from this book, that a skilled designer's work is valued by those he or she works for, and a reminder of the burden that designers bear in their work.

Reading Rand's "A Designer's Art" was something like the experience I had when reading Stephen King's "On Writing." Both men are (or were, in Rand's case) masters of their respective craft, and both have had their effect on our culture and our way of life, each in their own unique way. More importantly, though, just as I was inspired to write as I was reading "On Writing," so too was I inspired to make something new and original as I put down "A Designer's Art." Both books inspired me to create. I can't think of any better motivation for reading them than that.
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
This Book: Designer's Delight 26 Nov. 2000
By Michael Pinto - Published on
Format: Paperback
First off: Rand is one of the best graphic designers of all time. He designed some of the best logos of the 20th century (example: the IBM logo), and this book features some of his best work. Rand doesn't take himself too seriously, and this book has a touch of humor here and there. His genius is that he can pull off a liquor ad, kids book or corporate showcase. My favorite thing about the work is that it doesn't look dated, there is a timeless classic quality here. Rand designed this book himself and the quality shows, this book is a must for anyone who is a professional graphic designer. Sadly Mr. Rand is no longer with us, but we have his treasures in this book.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Paul Rand: A Designer's Must Have 29 July 2003
By Joel Tarver - Published on
Format: Paperback
The single greatest book on Graphic Design ever written. This is not a tutorial or a how to, but a why. Why things work, why they don't, and why it is important to know about its history. Learn the importance of this medium, its impact on industry, and its place in the arts.
"That graphic design is generally considered a minor art has more to do with posturing than it does with reality."
-Paul Rand
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great examples but lacking the depth I hoped for. 23 Sept. 2004
By Jack Bert - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book uses the teaching by example system giving illustrated examples of the author's past advertising design work. I did not get the in-depth education in visual design that I had hoped for. Rand's work uses a combination of simple to mid complexity visuals that communicate in an abstract high brow way. It is this sophistication that I suppose makes others give the book such high ratings. If more text was added to explain the principles then the book would have been a much better educational experience. A 4 rating for visual quality and examples, a 3 for content, are fair ratings.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Paul Rand at his best 27 Jan. 2012
By James O.S.CT - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Paul Rand: A Designers Art" is both educational and visually enlightening. In this book, Mr. Rand's pioneering work in the field of graphic design is covered from his early days in the 1930s through the mid 1980s. The book brings together the best of Rand's essays on design, illustrated with examples of his work - posters, book jackets, product ads, trademarks and interiors. A must read for every designer.
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