Paula Scher – “Less is more and more is more. It’s the middle that’s not a good place”

April, 2017
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4 mins
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Image © The Interviewee

Interview with design legend Paula Scher

Over the years, Creative Chair has been fortunate enough to speak to some of the world’s most talented and influential designers/creatives, such as Michael Doret, Fabio Sasso and Scott Belsky. Today we add another very special name to that list; Paula Scher, who has been working in the creative industry since the 70’s.

She created the visual identity for several renowned New York institutions, such as The Public Theatre, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Opera.

Paula has also designed many iconic album covers and was the subject of the Netflix show ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’.

Paula Scher was the first female principal at Pentagram, where she has worked since 1991.

You’ve been working in the creative industry for many years, during which time you’ve produced a plethora of iconic designs. What’s the secret to staying passionate about your job, and, have there ever been times when you’ve just wanted to phone it in?

I like to make things.  I get excited every time I think there is the possibility that something can be terrific.  That never changes.  The only time that doesn’t happen is when the project doesn’t deserve to be designed in the first place because it is meaningless, or the client is reprehensible. Then I want to “phone it in”.

How do you feel when you look back at your portfolio from over the years, and, are there any projects that you wish you had approached differently?

I am charmed by things I designed 40 years ago, and I like what I did yesterday.  Most of the rest I can really look at and have no feeling for.  But I value what I learned.

The 71st 366 Award goes to Paula Scher for her outstanding creative work.

Paula Scher Posters

You’ve been described as a maximalist. At a time of near ubiquitous minimalism, do you think there is a strong argument for a more is more approach?

Less is more and more is more.  It’s the middle that’s not a good place.

The World by Paula Scher
‘The World’, 1998 – Buy ‘Paula Scher Maps’ from Amazon

Do you feel that there is still a gender disparity within the design industry, and, what advice would you give to our female readers who are trying to forge a career in graphic design?

There is still gender disparity.  I found from this past election that it is much worse than I imagined because I live in an NYC bubble.

That said, I will tell all women to do what they want to do anyway, because it is the best option.  Not doing it is tragic.

Environmental Graphics

And finally, if you died and became reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?

Nice work If you can get it.

Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Nice Work If You Can Get It (1957)
Frank Sinatra
Play on Apple Music
Play on Spotify
Play on YouTube
What began as a fun question to end an interview, has now become a wonderfully eclectic collaborative playlist by 161 people (and counting).
Paula Scher
Our Forest