Readers of Jytte Klausen’s “The Cartoons that Shook the World,” which was officially released by the Yale University Press on Monday, may find that the 2005 Danish cartoons are not the only element absent from the book.
The Yale University Press began phasing out its distinctive logo, designed in 1985 by acclaimed graphic designer and former School of Art emeritus professor Paul Rand, in books published this fall, Yale University Press Director John Donatich said. And while it has not yet removed the logo from its Web site, the Press will now feature the word “Yale” in the University’s official typeface along the spines of new books — in what observers described as an effort to bring Yale and the press closer together.
The two organizations, which have “complementary missions,” may be trying to bring together paths that have diverged in recent years, University Printer John Gambell said. Although Gambell said he was fond of Rand’s logo, he added that the design had plenty of critics.
“A lot of people didn’t like it,” Gambell said. “A lot of people found it kind of asymmetrical and untraditional and kind of a little bit hard to decode.”
Rand, who taught at Yale for almost 30 years and died of cancer in 1996, was particularly well-known for his work on corporate logos, including those of ABC, IBM and UPS.
The striking design was typical of Rand’s style, said Michael Bierut, a senior critic of graphic design at the School of Art.
“I would not call it awkward as much as idiosyncratic,” Bierut said. “At this stage of the game, it has appeared on so many books — so many good books — that in and of itself it has transcended its original formal qualities, and it stands in the minds of the people just for the Yale Press.”
At the same time, discarding the logo in order to merge the identities of the University and the press may be a successful strategy, Bierut said, especially since he said he believes Rand’s original intentions were to clearly distinguish the two organizations.
Jessica Helfand ’82 ART ’89, who was advised on her graduate thesis by Rand, said that while she personally is not a fan of the logo, she recognizes its significance as a symbol of Rand himself.
“It is quintessential Rand,” said Helfand, now a senior critic of graphic design at the School of Art. “He was the king of geometry. It was the science by which he made his decisions, and it was very evident in his teachings.”
Helfand said those teachings, which were grounded in an a principles-based approach, were remarkable in the young field of graphic design during the 1950s and 1960s.
When asked how Rand would feel about his logo being phased out, Helfand quipped, “He would feel fine — as long as he was hired to design the new one.”