London Design Festival: Paula Scher – Quotes of note

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a talk at the V&A as part of the London Design Festival. With Adrian Shaughnessy as the host, it was basically an audience with Paula Scher. The first female partner at Pentagram NY with a wealth of experience in design and teaching, Paula is a very interesting lady. Obviously I was mostly trying to pay attention to the interview, but i managed to jot a few quotes which I thought were of note:

On her college experience…
“The cool kids went to football games, but I went to the Museum to do drawings and paintings.”
“I didn’t have enough neatness skills to be a designer. Everyone would be using their Helvetica letraset.”

On her emotions…
“I cry when I don’t know how to fix something.”

On Graphic Design being a male dominated industry – true or false?…
“True – used to be. It’ll change. It’s changing already.”

On being judged for being a female designer…
“I think that’s the stupidest thing on the planet. People will discover that there are great women graphic designers on the planet.”

On her management method…
“I run my team like a band.”

On Pentagram…
“The partners are the designers – a series of small teams. They’re not business people. They’re people that make stuff.”

On her husband…
“I met him with my portfolio – he was my hero.”

On discussing work with her husband…
“Yes – projects, the industry and things we’ve seen.”

On her job designing record sleeves…
“I didn’t even know I had a terrific job.”

On clients…
“If you have the right client you can do terrific work.”

On career development…
“When you’re young you don’t know anything. In your 20s – 30s there is an enormous period of growth. In your 30s – 40s you plateau. Set yourself challenges to grow.”

On her teaching experience…
“It’s very good to see how other people see.”

On criticism…
“I hate having my work trashed publicly – it’s rough.”

On the perfect person to become a Pentagram partner…
“Social. No egos. Incredible work. Somebody who wears a cape.”

On other designers…
“Spin – small businesses do the best work. I respect them.”

On advice for students…
“Discover what it is you do well. And work with that.”
“Don’t rely on technology – learn to think beyond it. Because it will change.”

On environmental type…
“Space. Message. Spirit of the project.”

On the future of design…
“Raise the expectation of what design can be. It has never been as understood by the public as it is now.”

If you don’t know a lot about Paula Scher and you found those quotes interesting, I suggest you read up about her – a lot can be learnt from her. I wrote a large chunk of my dissertation on Women in Graphic Design about Paula so I was really pleased to be able to attend and hear her first hand.

Do you agree or disagree with anything Paula has to say? Did you attend the talk too? What did you think? Did the talk change your opinion of Paula, Graphic Design or Pentagram?

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