Chris Cureton: Brand Consultant, Art Director & Graphic Designer - Design Greatness


Design Commentary by Chris Cureton, Brand Consultant & Designer - Design Greatness.

Type as Medium: Paul Rand on Typographic Form and Expression

The graphic designer uses the alphabet to visually communicate a message by manipulating it's form and composition, as well as the space around and within the letters. Paul Rand, a designer who loved this art so much that he signed his name on the majority of his work, dedicates a section in his book, Thoughts on Design, to typographic form and expression:

"By carefully arranging type areas, spacing, size, and "color", the typographer is able to impart to the printed page a quality which helps to dramatize the contents."

In his work, Rand uses type as a visual guide determining the rhythm of the page for the eye. Type, for Rand, communicates a message, but also personality, depth, strength, and intellect. He extends the expressiveness shown in letters to numerals and punctuation.

"The numeral as a means of expression possesses many of the same qualities as the letter. It can also be the visual equivalent of time, space, position, and quantity; and it can help to impart to a printed piece a sense of rhythm and immediacy...Punctuation marks, as emotive, plastic symbols, have served the artist as a means of expression in painting as well as in the applied arts."

Rand's work can be seen as examples of typographic expression but also of Rand using type to propose challenges to the viewer. He does this by putting the message into the form of the type and letting the audience participate in finding the message.

- Christopher W. Cureton

IBM 1972 ( Source )

IBM 1972 (Source)

Gentry Living Color 1993 ( Source )

Gentry Living Color 1993 (Source)

Westinghouse Annual Report 1974 ( Source )

Westinghouse Annual Report 1974 (Source)

   Yale University Press 1985 ( Source )


Yale University Press 1985 (Source)

The Anatomy of Revolution 1956 ( Sourc e)

The Anatomy of Revolution 1956 (Source)

Direction - April 1940 ( Source )

Direction - April 1940 (Source)

Smith, Kline, & French (Source)