A Designer’s Art by Paul Rand

Poster based on Rand's cover for Direction magazine, 1939

Paul Rand is a little gap on my bookshelf. Princeton Architectural Press’ recent reprint of his 1985 monograph A Designer's Art (complete with obligatory afterword by Steven Heller) pretty much lives on my desk these days. Over 27 essays, he discusses a wide range of subjects still pertinent to design today, all accompanied by numerous examples of his work (more of which can be found at paul-rand.com). Demonstrating Rand's ability to simplify shape and colour and space into the most striking form, it's surprising how contemporary much of it seems – there are posters and covers and identities in here from seventy years ago that could've been made yesterday. One gripe: given Rand’s distinctive use of colour, it’s a shame that some of the images are black and white. Still, it's a stunning collection and offers a valuable education from one of design's greatest teachers; open it on any page and there's something that will spark inspiration. An essential read for designers, artists and everything in-between.

A Designer’s Art, 1985

Minute Man National Historic Park poster, 1974

Dada poster, 1951

The International Design Conference in Aspen poster, 1966

IBM poster, 1981

AIGA poster, 1968

Yale University School of Art poster, 1988

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition catalogue, 1970

Westinghouse Annual Report, 1974

Alien: Covenant poster

Good crikey, just look at this poster for Alien: Covenant. I've actually been working on a little Alien-related personal project of my own recently, and just when I think I'm halfway happy with it … this appears. How am I supposed to compete with this? It's as if Rodin took the afternoon off and asked HR Giger to finish off The Gates of Hell in his absence. Stunning/infuriating.

Tula Lotay

Tula Lotay's poster for Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper is rather lovely, isn't it? Love that lettering. As if being a bit good with a pen wasn't enough, it turns out that Lotay is also the brains behind Thought Bubble (Leeds' excellent annual comic art festival) and creative director of splendid comic shop Travelling Man. Lord only knows when she finds time to sleep. Check out her shop for more of this sort of thing. 

Black & Chrome

The black and white  – sorry, black and chrome – version of Mad Max: Fury Road is finally coming to the big screen this April (a good excuse to appreciate Changethethought's wonderful heavy-type poster). It may seem like a trivial adjustment, but going black and white can change a film in unexpected ways. For example, Frank Darabont's superior cut of The Mist feels more like a particularly excellent episode of The Outer Limits. And if you watch Saving Private Ryan or Raiders of the Lost Ark with the colour turned right down, it somehow seems more realistic, closer to the imagery of the era that we're most familiar with. Anyway, this is apparently George Miller's preferred version of the film, so it'll be interesting to see how it differs. It looks wonderfully, appropriately oily.

Art of the Modern Movie Poster / Translating Hollywood

As commercial art produced to sell another form of commercial art, film posters can often be crass, repetitive, disposable. They’re just adverts to convince you to sit in a dark room for a couple of hours, right? They’re all about big floating heads, questionable quotes from reviewers, mugging comedians accompanied by bold red text on white backgrounds, right?

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