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 the phone number was left incomplete.