One of the first designers I studied and researched years ago was Saul Bass, an American widely considered as one the great graphic designers of the mid 20th century.
Last Wednesday you might have noticed Google’s video doodle celebrating what would have been Bass’ 93rd birthday. The short doodle takes you through a journey of Bass’ most remembered posters and credits. You can watch the video .
Bass died in 1996 but during his 40-year career he produced film titles, posters, logos and adverts. But he was probably most widely known for his film title design and collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Martin Scorsese.
One of his most famous works was the paper cut-out of a heroin addict’s arm for the film, The Man with the Golden Arm. Here’s just a small selection of his work:
Even today’s film credits, such as the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading, take inspiration from Bass.
Although most people will associate Bass with the film industry, it’s worth remembering his work on some of America’s most iconic brands. Most of his marks follow minimalist, round, geometric patterns.
I recently read that the average lifespan of a Saul Bass logo is 34 years and it’s not hard to believe. Take a look at the below marks that were created by Bass and how they have evolved to present day:
Minolta (original design by Saul Bass in 1978, updated in 2003)
Kleenex (original design by Saul Bass in 1980s, updated in 2008)
AT&T (original design by Saul Bass in 1986, updated in 2005)
Bass is quoted saying: “If I do my job well, the identity program will also clean up the image of the company, position it as being contemporary and keep it from ever looking dated.”
It’s fascinating that the same man designed so many worldwide logos that are still with us today. It just goes to show that great work can be timeless.