I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares, as opposed to ugly things. That’s my intent.

SAUL BASS

Do you have a hero? I’ve got a bunch of ’em. Persons whose work or character I admire, to which I aspire.

This’ll be a shorter post because the work of Saul Bass is its point and focus. I want you to note the output of Bass, to look and to learn.

In modern communication arts, Saul Bass and Paul Rand are pillars of the temple, titans on whose shoulders a million designers stand.

We learn through imitation. Of all the mentors I’ve modeled, I’ve probably imitated Bass the most. I want to be a chip off the old block, petros to his petra.

Good artists copy, great artists steal. Emulation gives way to assimilation, integration, and, finally, synthesis. You make stolen things your own before coming into your own, even if your brush strokes or prose betray their influence. I am influenced by the sensibilities of Saul Bass.

One more thought about heroes. It’s good to have them and to feel yourself a pygmy to them. Building confidence is one thing, but certainty is death to the creative. A healthy insecurity and discontent goads one forward. But I’m off track…

You may already know and have absorbed Saul Bass without realizing it. You’ve seen his motion titles in the works of Hitchcock and Preminger, or in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. His posters for The Shining, Vertigo, The Man with the Golden Arm.

The gestalt elegance of his corporate marks surrounds us, those silent salesman for AT&T, The Girl Scouts, Quaker, Dixie, Kleenex, Bell Telephone.

And if you know the deep cuts, then you’re a fan of his one and only feature film, PHASE IV (1974), which he directed.

Bass’s work still dots the landscape. His work looms large, like the pyramid of Giza. What can one do but stand back and gape?

Come and see:

The Title Design of Saul and Elaine Bass from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.


ANTHONY ROTOLO is a designer and writer who steals from the best.