jp williams

paul rand inc.

JP Williams

i receive lots of emails asking about paul rand. it seems many people want to know what it was like to have him as a teacher, or how many rand-designed items i have.

like so many of his students, i have my own personal stories to tell. after leaving yale, I kept in touch with him and tried to visit often. the videos you see on youtube—or the interview with steve jobs about working with him—give a pretty accurate picture of what he was like.

my association with him has engendered many stories. here is one. i once had the pleasure of interviewing with peter arnell. this was in 1993 when he was still working with donna karan and i was an art director at bergdorf’s. (you may not know, but when apple did the “think different” campaign and chose paul rand as one of the featured artists, it was peter arnell's photo they used. i have always disliked that he made money from that.) anyway, i walked into arnell's office and sat down. he did not open my portfolio. he held up my resume and read it aloud. "so, you went to yale?" he asked. "i did," i replied. “it doesn't bother you that i went to princeton and my partner went to columbia?" "no,” i said, “not everyone gets into yale." (i already figured I wasn't getting the job.) "so you studied with paul rand?" "i did." "would he remember you?" "um, i guess. i would like to hope so." at this point he yelled out to his assistant, "can you get paul rand on the phone?" ok. there is a first time for everything. the only thing going through my mind was what mr. rand could possibly say. and what if he didn't remember me? although i was pretty sure he would. arnell put the phone on speaker and we listened together as it rang over and over. arnell was watching me the whole time. i remember this as if it were yesterday. finally the answering machine came on. arnell hung up without leaving a message. i wasn’t especially relieved, mostly just perplexed. what would he have asked him? we then proceeded to discuss rand and his work. what i liked about it, etc. the rest of the interview was pretty uneventful. for my follow-up to the interview, i sent arnell one of my prize rand books, "leaved canceled," a book he designed in 1945 for knopf. i included a note of thanks and mentioned our shared enthusiasm for mr. rand. my southern roots expected some sort of response. it never came. mr rand touched many people, even someone like peter arnell. mr. rand’s business card sits framed on my shelf, like so many other things he designed. enjoy.

fyi: for privacy reasons I've left the phone number incomplete.


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Thank you for sharing the card and the story. I have long admired Mr. Rand's work even before I knew who he was. I'm not surprised the card is a simple layout of text. His name is synonymous with so many great logos the card hardly needed any embellishment. His work and writing has had a profound affect on my own approach.
I love the simplicity...I take it that there is nothing on the back?
Jesse Steinreply
Why would you want to work for a person whom couldn't find the time to respond to such a thankful response to an interview anyway? Especially after he felt he had the power to humiliate you within an interview by putting Mr. Rand on the phone. You should thank Mr. Rand for not answering that phone call. You may have ended up spending many years within a job along side another pretentious designer. Thanks for the post. It reminds me how important it is to have passion and respect for design and illuminate all the arrogance within my daily routing.
[...] I couldn’t resist posting this. The business card itself is a great piece of design, but you also need to read the story behind it. Spotted via amassblog [...]
[...] 19, 2009 · Leave a Comment via [...]
Thanks for the story. It fits well with other not so wonderful stories about Arnell I've listened to.
What a great story. I love the rebuttle to the Princeton comment. Genius.
hah...great story. :-)
[...] Learn More on Amass blog [...]
I love Paul Rand. Peter Arnell, not so much. Thank you for this wonderful story. It shed light on the class (or lack of class in Arnell's case) of the two men.
[...] AMASSBLOG. — var linkwithin_site_id = 40390; (function () { var elem = [...]
Great anecdote JP! Always fascinating to hear behind-the-scenes about big shots like Arnell and legends like Rand.
[...] This is what I mean for “being successful”. Jan 6, ’10 1:03 AM Author admin Categories Uncategorized via [...]
I made a business card like that for a class in junior high once. It was some sort of career planning class. The teacher said it wasn't eye-catching, so I had to re-submit with a card that had some ugly, pointless graphics on it which looked exactly like everyone else's. I got an A..............
great story JP
[...] Paul Rand Inc. [...]
Great story and I love the simplicity of the card design. Is the black border printed on the card?
60-pound Strathmore, does it bend? yes! Can you tear it, yes!! His business card is crap! ;-)
Indeed a perfect visiting-card,but have to agree on James Kurtz: why that black border ? gives me some funeral effect...btw nice post !
thanks for the comment. just to let you know there is no black boarder. just a simple white card. it seems too simple for many.
[...] source, amass­blog, also has one of Paul Rand’s busi­ness cards. I keep won­der­ing if I would think it was beau­ti­ful (I do) if it didn’t have Paul [...]
Wow. I knew Peter Arnell was a complete a-hole but wow he really is a self absorbed little man. How tough does he think he is to do something like that? I would like to meet him on the street one day. He will be quickly forgotten.
Lindy Berklinereply
Peter Arnell of the Tropicana Orange Juice packaging debacle? The size of a man's ego is inversely correlated to his talent.
I found your site because i was doing a class project. But what is even more interesting to me is that you worked for Bergdorf's. I've been looking everywhere for either the name of the typeface or who designed the logo for their stores. Do you know?
sorry for the tardy reply. do you still need info about the bergdorf's logo?
[...] amass blog ( 12/18/09 – student of rand recounting interview with peter arnell – 23 comments ) [...]
[...] Can’t imagine that it could get much better than this. Via amassblog. [...]
Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!
What is the size? What is the name of the font?
"Peter Arnell of the Tropicana Orange Juice packaging debacle? The size of a man’s ego is inversely correlated to his talent." excellent comment!
[...] pò il cuor. Va beh, queste sono le mie considerazioni personali. Qui, trovate l’intervista a JP Williams, uno dei suoi studenti ed un piccolo [...]
[...] Paul Rand11) Dwight Eisenhower13) Evan Williams, TwitterSources and references:1) Design you trust2) Amass blog 3) reddit4) Print Business Cards5) Business card design starter kit6) Designing and Producing [...]
i worked for arnell for 9 months. horrid experience. he did a similar power-trip thing in my interview. ugh.