A Graphic Designer’s Dream Come True: Paula Scher Talk

“8 days ago, we didn’t know this event was happening, 7 days ago we put it together and less than 24 hours later it was sold out.”

 Before going to sleep I checked my inbox and saw AIGA Raleigh and Paula Scher, I immediately clicked on the link, screamed, and then bought the last ticket. A graphic designer’s dream come true. Getting the opportunity to listen to Paula Scher talk about graphic design and learning about her experiences is an opportunity I will not forget.


5 Lessons Learned:

  1. Get your audience to resonate with your design.
    Hurricane Sandy ruined the beaches and boardwalk along New York. Scher added beautiful, thoughtful signage and environmental graphics down the New York shoreline. It resembled postcards with a photo which captured the entrance of the exact spot where the sign is located which encompasses the beauty and the memory of that specific location. These signs resonated with the locals as well as visitors.

    At Brasco ///, in branding or other in-depth design projects, we also explain what the inspiration was and how it represents the brand we are designing for.

    It was inspiring how humble Scher is about her design. She was excited when her friends sent her pictures of the signs when they went surfing. Even as one of the most famous graphic designers out there, she still gets excited to see her work, and that is a feeling I think will never get old as a designer.


“Sometimes you make money on the things you don’t put in your portfolio, and you fall in love with passion projects.”


  1. If you give a mockup, you better be able to make it happen.
    Scher created environmental graphics for the Lucent Technologies Center for Arts Education, a school affiliated with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She was asked to redesign the exterior of the building. She gave a mockup where the building was white, and it was covered in typography such as dance, music, writing, poetry, etc. From the mockup, that’s exactly what she needed to deliver. To make it happen they hand painted the type the way she had designed to go on the building. It was bold, unique, and modern.

    Whenever we propose a new project or idea at Brasco ///, we deliver what we’ve offered from our original plan. Whether it’s an animated skyline that draws as you scroll or a presentation that needs to elevate your brand to the next level, we promise to deliver quality and to solve problems through each project we are given.


“Branding success is when you can recognize the brand without the logo.”


  1. When creating a brand, create a system.
    Branding is more than a logo or just a mark. There is an entire visual system that should be recognized with your brand. Scher has been designing New York City’s Public Theater branding since 1994. Through the imagery, typography, color, and tone, she has created a system that works. Whether the name changes or something is adjusted in the design, the system itself never changes.

    The Public Theater’s typography and imagery were so successful that it started popping up in magazines, advertising, and all over New York City. Everything started to look like their branding, so the Public Theater had to continuously change to stay fresh.


“When your design is successful, everybody starts copying you, so then it’s time for you to change your style.”


  1. If you don’t know the cause and don’t care about it, it’s not going to work.
    Understand what the client does. Understand their audience. Put yourself in their shoes, and then start designing. That’s how you come up with inspiring ideas.

    Scher created a large-scale mural for the museum in downtown Atlanta for the Nation Center for Civil and Human Rights. She created a bold composition by paying homage to the graphics of the civil rights movement. The raised hand she added into the composition brought a beautiful surprise. The audience would engage with the graphic and it spread across social media. Because Scher researched the project, understood and, cared about the work, it created a successful piece in the end.

    At Brasco ///, we believe discovery is such an important piece of the overall project for it to be successful. The discovery drives the ideas to make the best design solutions.


  1. Push back happens to everybody.
    You must be able to walk someone through your design process and reasoning to help them understand it. You should be able to explain your design in non-design terms as well. Starting over or having a new image is a scary thing for most people. There is a balance game that you must learn to gauge as a designer. However, there is only so much give and take that then affects the overall quality of the work. After a certain amount of edits and changes to the design, it’s going to lose its appeal that the designer originally intended.

    No matter how educated, practiced, or well-known you are as a designer, you still must defend your work. It’s important to give your client a design they are happy with, but it’s also important to use your talent and knowledge to create the best design possible.


“You have to make a change when you stop feeling inspired.”