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Paula Scher: Do What You've Never Done Before

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Published on Oct 25, 2012

About the presentation

Sometimes you have to ignore the brief, says renowned designer and artist Paula Scher. With a dry wit, Scher takes us behind-the-scenes on four landmark projects -- from revamping MoMA's identity to reinvigorating a Pittsburgh neighborhood through design -- to illustrate how asking questions, pushing into uncharted territory, and doing something you've never done before leads to great work.

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0:44 - Making an identity for The High Line
2:33 - Mike Bloomberg, 9/11, and the new mayor. "This thing could begin to be serious"
3:53 - Making "crappolla" to make The High Line real while raising money
5:34 - "Until we broke ground I was never convinced it would happen. It sounded like it was too much money and too much work."
6:27 - Doing MoMa's identity
7:08 - Usually after a fancy rebranding, it falls apart. How she avoided that with MoMa
8:44 - The importance of a consistent template when dealing with clients
10:06 - Sometimes it's not the design it's the people.
10:20 - Designing the logo for Northside, Pittsburgh
11:31 - Landmarks over logos. "I didn't want to do something for free that I thought was dumb."
12:20 - Re-imagining the Northside overpass
13:33 - Sometimes just ignore the brief
13:50 - Designing Metropolitan High School
15:40 - Taking the beige out of schools
17:32 - Straddling between design and art. Design has a purpose, art does now.
19:00 - "We're not proofreading that, that's art!"

About Paula Scher

For four decades Paula Scher has been at the forefront of graphic design. Iconic, smart and unabashedly populist, her images have entered into the American vernacular. Scher has been a principal in the New York office of the distinguished international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991.

She began her career as an art director in the 1970's and early 80's, when her eclectic approach to typography became highly influential. In the mid-1990s, her landmark identity for The Public Theater fused high and low into a wholly new symbology for cultural institutions. Her graphic identities for Citibank and Tiffany & Co. have become case studies for the contemporary regeneration of classic American brands.

Scher has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for clients including, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Opera, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Sundance Film Festival and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Scher has been the recipient of hundreds of industry honors and awards. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, among others. She has lectured and exhibited all over the world, and her teaching career includes over two decades at the School of Visual Arts, along with positions at the Cooper Union, Yale University and the Tyler School of Art.

About 99U

The 99U delivers the action-oriented education that you didn't get in school, highlighting real-world best practices for making ideas happen.

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