The Greatest Graphic Designers of All Time – #1
Perhaps the most vital person in 20th century graphic design, Saul Bass was a legend. When it came to talents Bass was a vitruvian man of sorts: film sequences, corporate logos, advertisements and much more. Chief among his efforts were his iconic film posters which demonstrated a minimalist use of silhouettes juxtaposed against bright colours.
Bass was born on May 8, 1920, to Eastern European Jews who migrated to New York City. The family would move into the Bronx. Bass later graduated from James Monroe High School, studied part-time at the Arts Student League in Manhattan and eventually attended night courses with Hungarian-born painter György Kepes.
Bass made it into Hollywood in the 1940s, crafting print advertisements for various films including Champion (1949) and Death of a Salesman (1951). Director Otto Preminger would give Bass his big break after being impressed with the designer’s poster for the 1954 film Carmen Jones. Bass was commissioned to produce the title sequence for the film as well. This landmark moment in the designer’s career helped him realise the creative potential behind title sequences.
Preminger’s 1955 film The Man with the Golden Arm would put Bass’ career on the map. The film’s title sequence would make the latter’s name spread across Hollywood. The controversial animated opening of the film would put emphasis on the arm of the lead character, a heroin addict, causing quite the sensation when it opened in cinemas.
Bass’ popularity truly exploded when he began working for Alfred Hitchcock in the late 50s/early 60s. His use of kinetic typography in the title sequences of Hitchcock’s films would leave a memorable impression on cinema audiences.
The world’s busiest graphic designer would also design corporate logos for many notable companies and products including United Airlines, Quaker Oats, Warner Communications, and AT&T. His very last commissioned film poster was for the 1993 Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List. It was never distributed.
Saul Bass would continue to receive opening credits work up until his death, aged 75, from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on April 25, 1996.
Dr. No (1962)
The Shining (1980)
The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
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