In the Netflix documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design, design critic Ellen Lupton remarks that Paula Scher is the most influential woman graphic designer on the planet. "It's a tall claim, but irrespective of gender, Scher is unparalleled in her ability to combine the commercial with the artistic; the pragmatic with the visionary; the smart with the emotive," states Unit Editions, which has released a new book celebrating Scher's story so far.
"She is, in fact, a graphic polymath – designer, artist, innovator and partner in Pentagram, one of the world's most respected design studios," Unit adds. "She is articulate, combative, and a fiery evangelist for the power of design. And now, in the fifth decade of her professional life, she is showing no inclination to slow down."
Of course, Scher works for giant corporations (Microsoft and Bloomberg, for example); the foremost cultural institutions in America (MoMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, etc.); and numerous socially engaged projects (Planned Parenthood, Heart and Stroke, etc.). She combines polemical work for The New York Times with her growing body of hand drawn maps that she exhibits in galleries. And since the 1980s, she has played a leading role in the public discourse around design, as a writer, commentator, and tireless speaker at conferences around the world.
Want to discover more? Paula Scher: Works is a new monograph from Unit Editions that provides a chronological visual record spanning Scher's early days in the music industry designing record covers for Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and countless others; the launch of her first studio, Koppel & Scher; her 25-year engagement with Pentagram; and her growing body of personal and artistic work.
It demonstrates how, through her innovative environmental graphics and identity design, Scher's work is woven into the very fabric of New York City – from MoMA to Shake Shack; from the New York Times to the High Line. Her transformation of The Public Theatre is a seminal example of her legendary identity work, and stands as a striking demonstration of her ability to produce adaptable designs which stand the test of time. Available to buy online. You can also book tickets for UNIT Live and enjoy an evening with Paula Scher this May.