Creativity 50 2008: Paula Scher

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Having earned both Grammy nominations and permanent residence in the Museum of Modern Art, graphic design vet and Pentagram principal Paula Scher stepped into a new direction in 2007 with her contribution to the HP "What Do You Have to Say?" campaign, which touted the power of digital print. Along with other celebrity "artists" like Gwen Stefani and Jake Burton, Scher appeared online explaining her M.O. as a designer. She also created a series of unique business templates, free for the downloading off her page on the HP site.

"The goal of the templates was to compete with Kinko's,Microsoft Word and generic documents," she explains. "If you're a layperson, based on the selection of typefaces, you would be able by looking at the templates to make the subtle decision about whether you want to look more modern or friendly by looking at a Sans Serif or Serif font. Essentially, it's typography 101 for small businesses."

Scher, who also recently worked on a revamp of the logo and identity for the NYC Ballet, is anxious for HP to upload and offer her final set of templates. "I wanted to do this particular project because I actually thought there wasn't anything that was very nice for people working out of their garage. I see no reason that people can't have reasonably well-designed things, even if it's not particularly customized. The idea of doing that was very appealing to me."

Although the work helps to contribute to the democratization of good design, Scher believes it's often misunderstood by her peers. "While I think I did the small business community a real service and it's a wonderful gift for them, the design community doesn't understand the point of it and that's been a little bit frustrating. They like to feel protective as if I've somehow taken away business from them. In fact, I haven't.What I've done is taken away the favor they had to do for their brother-in-law. That's what this does. As I said, I'm competing with Kinko's, not designers."

On what's next on her plate: "Trying to find those things I haven't done yet, and there are lots of things I haven't done yet. I haven't done work in set design or animation or film titles. There are still some parts of environmental design I'd like to tackle and I want my painting to grow."

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