Biography of Graphic Designer Paul Rand

An inspiring figure in modern graphic design

ABC logo


Peretz Rosenbaum (born August 15, 1914, in Brooklyn, NY) would later change his name to Paul Rand and become one of the most famous and influential graphic designers in history. He is best known for his logo design and corporate branding, creating timeless icons such as the IBM and ABC television logos.

A Student and Teacher

Rand stuck close to his birthplace and attended several of the most respected design schools in New York. Between 1929 and 1933 he studied at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students' League.

Later in life, Rand would put his impressive education and experience to work by teaching at Pratt, Yale University, and the Cooper Union. He would eventually be recognized by many universities with honorary degrees, including those from Yale and Parsons.

In 1947, Rand's book "Thoughts on Design" was published, which influenced the very idea of graphic design and continues to educate students and professionals today.

Paul Rand's Career

Rand first made a name for himself as an editorial designer, doing work for magazines such as Esquire and Direction. He even worked for free in some cases in turn for creative freedom, and as a result, his style became known in the design community.

Rand's popularity really grew as an art director for the William H. Weintraub agency in New York, where he worked from 1941 through 1954. There, he partnered with copywriter Bill Bernbach and together they created a model for the writer-designer relationship.

Over the course of his career, Rand would design some of the most memorable brands in history, including logos for IBM, Westinghouse, ABC, NeXT, UPS, and Enron. Steve Jobs was Rand's client for the NeXT logo, who would later call him a "gem," a "deep thinker," and a man with a "slightly rough exterior with a teddy bear inside."

Rand's Signature Style

Rand was part of a movement in the 1940s and 50s in which American designers were coming up with original styles. He was a major figure in this change that had a focus on freeform layouts that were much less structured than prominent European design.

Rand used collage, photography, artwork and unique use of type to engage his audience. When viewing a Rand ad, a viewer is challenged to think, interact, and interpret it. Using clever, fun, unconventional, and risky approaches to the use of shapes, space, and contrast, Rand created a unique user experience.

It was perhaps put most simply and accurately when Rand was featured in one of Apple's classic ads that stated, "Think Different," and that's exactly what he did. Today, he is known as one of the founding members of the 'Swiss Style' of graphic design.


Paul Rand died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 82. At this time, he was living and working in Norwalk, Connecticut. Much of his later years were spent writing his memoirs. His work and advice for approaching graphic design live on to inspire designers.