Monday, February 27, 2012


When I was at TCU, one of our projects was to research a famous graphic designer and do a poster representing that person. Our instructor passed around a sheet of paper with names on it. I didn't know any of these people, except for a few names that sounded familiar from previous lessons in our class. By the time the sheet of paper got to me, there were only a few names left, I randomly picked Paul Rand. I noticed next to the names were dates, the birth year and year of death. My guy, Mr. Paul Rand, had the year 1914 next to his name, but nothing else. I went to the library and pulled every book on Paul Rand I could find. He did such simple designs, Paul Rand was educated at the Pratt Institute (1929-1932), the Parsons School of Design (1932-1933), and the Art Students League (1933-1934). He was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. From 1956 to 1969, and beginning again in 1974, Rand taught design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Rand was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1972. He designed many posters and corporate identities, including the logos for IBM, UPS and ABC.  I could go on and on, but I will just link you to a website dedicated to him if you want to learn more about him.

In my research, I read on one of the books back flap that He lived in Connecticut with his wife....thinking back, I can't remember what city, but I had this idea to call information and just see if he was actually listed. I had not thought this all the way through, but when I got the operator and asked if there was a Paul Rand in that city in Connecticut, she said, yes, and gave me the phone number. I was going through the motions, just thinking it isn't the famous graphic designer Paul Rand, and I am sure no one will answer the phone anyway....I was just fumbling through the day, playing around, procrastinating on doing anything that took much effort...I was slouched on the floor with my long coiled-corded phone......I dialed the number..... I remember to this day.....not thinking that anything would come of this... I was surprisingly nonchalant. A lady answered, and I immediately sat up straight upon hearing her voice. I asked, "Hi, Is Paul Rand there?" "She said yes, hold on." Before she left the phone I quickly continued, "Paul Rand the graphic designer?", she said, "Yes, Let me go get him, he is out in the yard." I quickly rearranged myself from sitting on the floor to sitting on my bed....My nonchalant persona became flustered and confused. I couldn't think of anything to say or ask. He came to the phone and said "Hello" and I said "Hi, my name is Charla Marion and I'm a graphic design student at TCU", I can't remember if he knew TCU or not, can't remember if he asked me where I was from either. I told him I was supposed to do a poster on him. He asked if I wanted to be a graphic designer. I told him I wanted to do that and illustrations and computer graphics. I remember him saying that I probably needed to pick one. We talked a bit about all the different things I wanted to do.( I wish I had recorded this conversation, but I didn't know it was going to happen.) I was not prepared. He joked, saying "Jack of all trades, Master of none." Then he asked me what I was going to put on the poster, I had no idea. I was very shy and he pretty much carried the conversation.  We had talked about mixing things up,(or maybe how mixed up I was, not sure)  I wanted to do all these different things with my art and not really knowing which one I really wanted to do....He said, you could put a blender on the poster. We laughed....I know at the time, it made sense, and trying to remember all the details now, 26 years later, is really hard. BUT....He was funny, he was kind, and he gave me, a stranger...his time....He truly wanted to help me, encourage me, and give me some direction.....Like Maya Angelou said, "you may not remember what people say or do, but you will remember how they made you feel." And this is so true, I don't remember everything, but I remember how thoughtful and kind and humorous he was. 

When working on the poster, I played with blenders, but couldn't make it work, I ended up playing around with his signature and some modern style graphics.

 In our class, we have to get in front of the class and talk about our piece and let the instructor critique our finished piece in front of everyone. I got an A for research, she was most impressed that I talked to Mr. Paul Rand, but she said my poster was "too Matisse".....From time to time after that, My Mom would joke and say, I hope this isn't "too Matisse" for you ....which is like telling an actor trying to act like Sandra Bullock, that their acting was a bit too Meryl Streep....(yes I watched the Oscars last night, that is why I use this analogy).  I still find that I am a Jack of all Trades in my art.....but for me, I need that balance, otherwise I get burned out. ....