I'm just wondering if anyone has insight in to what governed Rand's typographic layouts.

It seems like they were often instinctual and not based on any grid system. I'm thinking of things like the El Producto ads "I fell like the Champ with an..." and others I've posted below. What would you even call this off kilter typographic style? It always seems very unique to me but I always find my tendency is to line things up nicely.

Paul Rand - El Producto Paul Rand - IBM Paul Rand - Interfaith Day

I've attached an image of what I had arrived at for one of the festivals I was designing for. There are other elements that frame the piece depending on the vehicle it's being used for but these are the basic elements. Feedback is welcomed.

China now test

  • 2
    It's not really called anything specific. Rand was simply using various design concepts...visual rhythm, contrast, scale, etc. I don't know if I'd even call it 'off kilter' as it's not all that avant garde. I'd encourage you to play outside of your grids next time you work with type. See what happens!
    – DA01
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:51
  • Yeah that's what I've been up to in my latest design project. It's a pretty big one for the organization I work for and involves our entire summer festival season. I guess I'm trying to find ways to articulate and support my design choices. Visual Rhythm is a good place to start. Feb 5, 2014 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


Edit: btw Paul Rand was working with what is called swiss-style design.

The way I see it; the grid get way too much attention. The examples you give are not really purely typographic style as such.

The ability, training and possibilities of play is underrated. Creating a visual language like Rand did, is part of his - almost - cult status among designers and illustrators. He clearly did a lot of sketching, playing with elements. I cannot emphasis play enough. If you dissect some of his work, you will find that there is a good deal of illustrative tension. The elements might be in harmony as such (bright colours, related shapes), but the placements (and sometimes colours) contain tension. It makes it visually a little surprising, maybe refreshing, even if we do not register it consciously. They are seemingly random objects scattered or floating in a 2D space. Asymmetry and non-symmetry is very common in his work. It requires a constant training of the "eye", and sometimes it does not work. But that is how we get out of the grid and back to play.

Having said that, his logo work is pretty "tight" for the most part. Disciplined, almost strict, yet playful. enter image description here

  • I totally agree with the sense of play. The tension you describe is what I find interesting. And as you state it sometimes doesn't work. Thanks for the insight. Feb 7, 2014 at 17:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.