Eva Machauf | COMD 3501 OL26 | Fall 2020

Category: WEEK 5: Paula Scher II: Do what You’ve Never Done Before

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

From what I’ve learned from the video, Paula Scher cherishes art and graphic design and the history behind it, together with classics, well known icons, writing, music, as well as  New York, which makes the pictures or components in her works frequently come from the social life in New York. Paula combined her craftsmanship with her graphic design angle to make a wall painting for the school. Craftsmanship has no reason whereas the graphic design does turn out to the center contrast. For Paula She made a straightforward, notorious, and effectively identifiable image for the neighborhood that inevitably got to be the symbol for the stop itself and for me so distant has still been an motivation

Paula Scher

Paula Scher loves the history of art and design, classics, popular iconography, literature, music and film, as well as the city where she lives, New York, which makes the images or elements in her works often come from the cultural life in New York.
For a LOGO to become a true symbol, it takes time and the continuous presentation of various perceptions of the brand to be formed. You should not judge the pros and cons of a logo separately from the actual environment, because a logo needs a period of time in the market to establish its own image, just like a magazine needs a year or more to establish its own personality.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

In the video “Do What You’ve Never Done Before”, Paula Scher teaches us through four design projects that she was commissioned to design. What She learned from each of them. The High Line, MoMa, The Northside Pittsburgh and Metropolitan High School.

“The High line” She had to create a logo for them. She thought of a railroad and the letter H, which is the initial letter of the company, to help her come up with the logo. In my opinion it is a simple design but nevertheless it works very effectively on any platform. It works more like an icon that you can put anywhere such as: umbrellas, cups, signs, etc.

“MoMA” She explains that: “sometimes it’s not the design, it’s really the people.” She talks about how different departments don’t work together when working on a project. She believes that all departments should work as one, rather than each doing its own thing. She wanted all the designs to have consistency, like the same type, the same design, no matter what they might promote. 

The Northside Pittsburgh in particular this project. She sums it up: “The brief is wrong.” She says, sometimes you just ignore the brief and do it, especially when you don’t get paid you have nothing to lose.

Finally Metropolitan High School “Is design or Art” The last project she talks about is her design for a high school. On this specific project she decided to combine her skills in painting and her environmental graphics.They ended up painting and placing one of their paintings, which is the map of New York with zip codes in different languages. She says: Design has a purpose, art does not. For me that is the difference between art and design.  Art is free.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

After watching this video, there is a lot of great and useful information to use and absorb in regards to being a graphic designer. You definitely have to branch out , because that’s one of the ways you’ll grow as a designer, and when you’re developing or redesigning an identity for something or someone, everything needs to be cohesive and go with each other. Paula Scher shows how this is done when she talks about her working at the MoMA and how they were not functioning as one brand and with the introduction of one template, everything looked cohesive regardless of the design that was presented, and that sometimes people fail at communicating things. Also, I learned that when you’re designing something , you never know if it’s going to become iconic. Take the example when she’s talking about the highline, when she was iffy about taking the job because at the time it was just an abandoned railroad. It only took an hour of studio time to come up with everything and now it’s iconic and pretty much a landmark.  It’s insane and pretty cool and inspirational at the same time.

Paula Scher_Do What You’ve Never Done Before

Paula Scher said “The way stuff gets made is accidental and circumstantial, that things have a life of their own”. At first I thought, accidental? I did not understand what she meant, but through watching the Do What You’ve Never Done Before video I believe she meant that you often start with an idea that may not go anywhere but it doesn’t hurt to just do. 

Scher took on the Highline job because she wanted Watch World. I found it interesting how she was never fully confident the job she did would become a real thing. I guess I thought the smaller things to get the attention of the audience like her city wide campaigns and her post card and stationary making would be like mini accomplishments regardless of it becoming a real thing. But overall she did the project not knowing it would be so successful.  Just like how the I heart NY logo was originally intended for the state, but the logo became specific to the city. 

I find myself overthinking more times than I can count. Wanting to be sure that I understand the brief and that I am not missing information. Scher’s example about the Moma made me realize it isn’t always the designers fault. She says “Sometimes it’s not the design, it’s the people”. Regardless she went into the project and had to restructure all the department’s communication as well as redesign each department to look cohesive. 

What really stood out to me was how humble Scher seems. She was honest with not wanting to recreate the H in Highline to an F, and how she was not interested in the Pittsburgh bridge redesigning because she didn’t want to work for free, “Sometimes just ignore the brief and go and do it….You have nothing to lose”.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

After watching “Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before”,she explains that when it comes to design sometimes things get made accidental.Paula didn’t want to take the high line project because she thought it would be a waste of time and money but she wanted the watch world job so she figured if she did a high line she would get it so that was her motivation.The Highline logo was so simple using the letter H and adding an extra horizontal line to make it look like a railroad line, the logo definitely got straight to the point about who and what the company is about.It’s crazy how Paula Scher didn’t feel the Highline project would be successful but it ended up becoming an iconic tourist attraction.


When it came to the MOMA museum she mentioned that they didn’t have a brand guideline to follow so designs were all over the place because the MoMa design team was separated by departments that don’t communicate with each other. Paula came up with a way to break down the departments and who was in control of what design and who had the final say so.A company needs to have a good base structure like a team that understands each other in order for a company to be successful.

As Paula said “Sometimes ignore the brief and just go do it when you’re not getting paid”.she did that whem it came time design for north side.Her design concept  for the northside in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania was to take the bridge and turn it  into an art piece that can  house art shows. Her idea was brilliant because not only did it turn a dule area into an interesting place it also brought the towns together.

The Metropolitan High School building was wrapped in typography based on her map paintings, it was very colorful.It was funny when it came time for MoMa to proofread the foriegn languages because all of a sudden turned into art work and didn’t need to be proofread they knew it was gonna be a lot of work; I wonder why the first couldn’t be considered art too. Can a piece done in a country’s spoken language can be considered art if they don’t proofread it first?.“Design has a purpose and art has no purpose” in her definition; with this quote would the answer to the question be yes?.


When it comes to designing one’s inner voice will try to stop the process  but one should always push through  because design may not be successful  in the beginning but later may end up turning into something wonderful.William F. O’Brien said “Better To Try And Fail Than Never To Try At All”, People rarely get second chances in life so grab every opportunity because every experience is growth.


Jerry_Neira_Paula Scher

I guess for a lot of people who want to enter the design field never realize that the number one obstacle you’re always doing to face is to do something you never have done before. There’s a lot of people who fear the general idea of it. Designers have to face this since it comes with the territory even if you’re an expert in a certain field you may have to branch out a little. Paula combined her art with her design aspect to create a mural for the school. Normally combing the concept of art and design needs to be well balanced. Before I even heard about the design I thought almost everything was art and didn’t realize the difference between the two. Art has no purpose while the design does turn out to the core difference. However, they are still relatives since designers are still considered a more logical or mission base kind of artist.

“Paula Scher : Do What You’ve Never Done Before”

Sometimes you have to ignore the brief, Paula Scher, the famous artist, and designer, says, Scher takes us on four innovative ventures behind the scenes, from renovating the MoMA logo to the Highline park design, She speaks about how it pays to continue working and raise questions, reach uncharted territories, and experience something you’ve never done before. It’s amazing how New York City really turns something so unexpected like the high line park itself into a landmark. The High Line is an elevated freight rail line that was turned into a public park on the West Side of Manhattan. She created a simple, iconic, and easily identifiable symbol for the neighborhood that eventually became the logo for the park itself.

“Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before” – Response

In the “Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before” video, Paula Scher walks the viewer through four different design projects she was commissioned to do. Scher explains these design projects had a life of their own as they felt very “accidental”. These projects were all experimental and odd such as making a logo for an abandoned railway or creating a logo for a section of town. Through Scher’s explanation, the viewer can see her confidence and the risks she takes to achieve her successful campaigns. These projects had a life of their own because they were more than her designs, they were systems and structures that needed to be fixed and agreed briefs that must be changed. I believe Scher wanted to reveal design is more than creating a logo and more than the designer but a series of unforeseen events that make it happen.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

After watching “Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before” I always can learn something new and get inspired by her work. I repeat a lot of time when she takes about the logo for Pittsburgh. she said “so sometimes just ignore the brief and go and do it especially when you’re not getting paid to use Pittsburgh and you have nothing to lose. It kinda reminds me of a YouTuber, when he has nothing to lose, he tries to be a YouTuber and achieve his goal. I like it when she talks about the MoMA project, about how they should communicate with each other in an easier way so they can do more work and use less time.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

After watching “Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before”, I personally had no idea that there was a show in Grand Central that included ideas from different people on how the Highline was made. It’s interesting how an idea which nobody really thought would happen, actually became something so big for New York City. This just makes me see that one should never give up or doubt their designs because you never know, your ideas or designs might become the next big thing. I really enjoyed seeing her painting of the boroughs of New York on the walls. From a far it looks like graffiti, which I enjoy, but from up close you realize there are words that all of us living in New York, are familiar with. The technique of projecting her original painting on the walls to later paint, was very smart so that everything was placed exactly where it needed to be. I also found it funny how the second work of art she presented was not proofread before being put up. Honestly, I would not have proofread it either. There were way too many languages and would’ve taken up too much unnecessary time.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

After watching Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before on Vimeo, I love the idea that Paula took advantage of each opportunity that was given to her to become who she is today. It made me realize that some opportunities come only once in a lifetime and if we didn’t take it seriously we won’t ever grow. I love how she worked on the Highline logo. It was too simple but it sent the message it had the idea of being a credible place. I also love the idea that she mentioned about MOMA museum how she brought four brochures that did not look like but at the same time it had the same pieces of artwork, as Paula said, “although the typography was pretty different than one another that happens is because they’re done in different departments and the departments don’t talk to each other and not function together as one brand” which really makes sense as they don’t follow the design manual of the brand. It also showed that without connections and teamwork you’ll never succeed especially if you’re working in a big place like MOMA.

She also mentioned that sometimes take a leap of faith and you better ignore the brief and do something that you see more applicable if you have nothing to lose. I also like the idea that she mentioned there’s a lot of difference between art and design or it is just order it has to do with your eyes. Your eyes can  love the artwork without having a meaning although the design has a purpose. Designing has a message behind the art that it is representing.

Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before

In the video Paula Scher talks about many things including taking risks such as ignoring the briefs and also taking a leap of faith and doing things you’ve never done before and I feel like these two points are incredibly valuable in which briefs can sometimes be confusing and misleading but still give you enough information to go off from and often time I do find my self straying from the brief because of its somewhat confining details. furthermore on the point of doing things I’ve never done before I feel as that is driving motivation in design pushing you to thing and grow outside the box and push your self what you didn’t think you were capable of within design and you really never know what will happen till you try like, Scher’s idea for the schools mural how it was a leap of faith and an amazing experience and point for her in her design career.