anachronism, business strategy, by hand, computer operator, conversations with students, cow, design, everything is design, exacto knife, experience design, louise fili, marian bantjes, old school graphic design, organizational effectiveness, paul rand, photostat, quirky, ray fenwick, rubylith, truthiest, use your hands

paul rand = the truthiest.

am i a living, breathing anachronism? i learned graphic design during the rubylith, photostat, rub-on copy, exacto knives, hand kerning and hotwax/burnishing era. now, in the adobe era, i can navigate indesign well, i’m a respectable beginner on photoshop and am basically crippled on illustrator.

my forte is ideas and concepts, not production. i can hand letter with the best of them, but still bow to the genius that is louise fili, marian bantjes and the quirky ray fenwick. need something made by hand? i will rock your world. do you need someone to direct others’ with ideas, and concepts? i can do that too. but i ain’t a “computer operator.” 

question: where does someone who knows how to design, tell stories, make meaning and create an experience (all with a strong foundation of organizational effectiveness and the ability to mix it all into good business strategy) belong? how does one make a personal brand from that mix?

(with paul rand’s conversations with students now available in paperback, i was reminded of the questions i had about my career, my skill set and my place in the world.)


“It is important to use your hands. That is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator.”

Working with your hands is important, whether wireframing and rough sketching with pen and paper or building circuits. But computers are an inevitable part of working as a modern designer and it is a shame that Rand’s brilliant mind isn’t still with us. It would have been an interesting conversation to see what he would make of the last 15 years.

Conversations with Students is never going to replace Rand’s more complete and complex books, but as an insight into his character and manner. There is more here to please than to sadden.

Paul Rand: Conversations with Students
Edited by Michael Kroeger. Foreword by Wolfgang Weingart.
Princeton Architectural Press 

(copy shown in grey italics quoted from the designer’s review of books:

order here:




One thought on “paul rand = the truthiest.

  1. razzik says:

    I understand “exacto” where you are coming from! I was a keyline and paste-up artist for many years too, using the same archaic tools you mention. Man, it makes me think that if any of them were buried, they could be dug up as bonifide fossils!

    As you know, the tech age really took off – FAST, and if you didn’t join the computer rennaissance in the 80s and 90s you could be lost today. It was an absolute must to keep up with the new technology or you would be left behind in the dust. Heck! I used to believe that typing was just for secretaries. I should have practiced more in my high school typing 101 class. Now they call it keyboarding instead of typing class.

    So, you ask about fitting in. It sounds like you’re an Idea Man, and not all about production. That’s a good position no matter what tools you are using to create your thoughts. Nevermind the pc, or mac – let the tech gurus do the production. Where is such a job for the Creative Art Director? These days, as an employed graphic artist or designer, you’re expected to be both art director (layout) and production to print. Those 2 very distinguished jobs back – whenever – are now considered one job.

    I think that Art/Creative Directors, are now project managers, marketing directors, and other supervisory titles. That’s where you can find your niche without ever touching a computer except for emails. In one of these roles you can still the [creative] brains of the outfit.


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