Paula Scher is quite likely the most important graphic designer living and working today. Celebrated at every level of the industry, she has turned her creative vision towards many industries and found ways to see them differently — including designing album covers. She has designed 100s, maybe 1000s of albums, many of which have gone on to sell tens of millions of copies. If you have a record collection its quite likely that you collect her work.
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Follow along with the SHOW NOTES below to see images of the projects and people discussed in this episode and be sure to enter our contest (details at the bottom of the SHOW NOTES on this page and at the end of the podcast episode).
5:20 – Paula’s father Marvin Bertram Scher
8:22 – Stanislaw Zagorski
14:55 – Bob James & Earl Klugh, One On One (photographed by Arnold Rosenburg)
15:05 – Bob James series of album covers (photographed by John Paul Endress)
18:20 – Charles Mingus I and II
20:00 – Paula often chose to include illustrations on the covers of albums she art directed.
24:00 – The CD format (especially jewel cases) led to Paula moving on from designing records as she found the format took all the fun out of it.
24:18 – A couple Stefan Sagmeister designed CD releases for Rolling Stones and Lou Reed.
24:30 – Jewel cases are the all plastic CD cases. Digipaks are primarily cardboard, with a plastic tray to hold the CD.
25:00 – For a short time jewel case CDs were placed in taller card boxes called ‘Longboxes’ for display in stores. These long boxes stood 12 inches tall, the same as LPs and did look much more impressive in a record store than jewel cases –– but they were very short lived as a design option.
26:23 – PAULA SCHER has been a partner at Pentagram since 1990.
29:15 – Paula Scher’s incredible book “Work”. Buy it here. 326 pages. Edition of only 2000 books.
31:41 – Ruth and Marvin Sackner collected ‘word art’ as part of a collection they called Concrete and Visual Poetry. They bought two of Paula’s earliest maps which started Paula down a path of taking this type of art more seriously.
33:00 – Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is located in the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile in Manhattan.
34:40 – Paula Scher’s 1998 Citibank identity has won many awards and has been widely regarded as one of the best rebrands in design.
37:22 – Queens Metropolitan Campus project
37:22 – Tyler School of the Arts project with students
40:19 – Ellen Lupton presenting at a design event in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2019 (photo by Adam Hefferman).
40:40 – Ellen’s husband, J Abbott Miller, is one of Paula’s partners at Pentagram.
44:30 – Learn more about PAULA SCHER
44:55 – Drop us a line about this or any episode. We’re looking for emails with feedback on the show; suggestions for future show guests; stories of your favourite album covers, posters, or music videos. Basically we just want to know you’re out there and you love music as much as we do.
We’re giving away a brand new pressing of John Prine’s Common Sense album, one of the earliest records Paula designed back when she was with Atlantic Records. All you need to do is send in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll enter you in the draw. If you’re following our Facebook or Instagram pages then we’ll enter you in the draw as well. Find us @artdesignmusicpodcast
46:15 – Huge thanks again to Loel Campbell for playing all the beats on the podcast. Check him out at these links: