Friday, October 5, 2012

Paula Scher, designer, teacher, mentor

What can I say, Paula does it all... oh yeah, she is married to that famous designer/illustrator, Seymour Chwast.  I asked Seymour how he met Paula, and he replied, "I was reviewing her portfolio."

This is what Gail Anderson has to say about Paula:

"I was one of those quiet, diligent students who worked hard, but said little in class. In the fall of 1983, my portfolio teacher at SVA, Paula Scher, wasn't having any of that; she actually asked me what I thought, and expected a response--out loud. That smoke-filled class changed my life.

Looking back, I think I did some of the best work of my college days in Paula's class; not because I was soooo talented, but because I looked really hard at what she did and tried to emulate the wit and energy of her work. Okay, I was ripping her off. We all were.

I learned to love giant wood type in Paula's class, and a reverence for all things nostalgic and whimsical. Paula made design fun, taught us dirty words in Yiddish, and had huge, uncensored opinions about everything. It was mesmerizing to sit near her Parliaments. She was blunt when the work wasn't good enough, but not mean, and challenged us to become better designers. Most importantly, Paula taught me to speak up. I'll never be as sharp and witty as her, but I know how to voice my opinion now, and can clearly trace the roots of that skill back to her class. Catholic school taught me to sit still; Paula's class taught me to open up.

Paula Scher is one of the people I pretty much owe my career to. She helped me get my first job at Vintage Books, put in a good word for me at The Boston Globe, and called Fred Woodward on my behalf when I wanted to work for him at Rolling Stone. She supported me when I moved to SpotCo seven years ago, and said matter of factly, "That's the perfect place for you," when I was all wobbly at the beginning. I figured if Paula thought it was a good move, that was good enough for me. It was a turning point."
View this short video by Hillman Curtis

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