Saul Bass

If heroes exist, then Saul Bass, who died last week, was certainly one to generations of graphic designers since the 1950s, not least to myself.

Simply by playing truant from art school one afternoon and seeing The Man With The Golden Arm title sequence convinced me to switch from painting to graphic design. Bass created a visual vernacular which perfectly suited the notion of relating film credit treatments to advertising and posters.

Not having had the dubious advantage of access to computer graphics, he always directed his own “live action” sequences. This led him to direct one of the greatest movie buff moments of all time – the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Film was not by any means Bass’s only medium. His corporate identity work is some of the best known and most effective in the world – AT&T, Bell Telephone, Exxon and Warner all have the visual power and simplicity which marks Bass out as a twentieth century great.

Last year I had the privilege of awarding him the Chartered Society of Designers’ lifetime achievement medal. Personally, I felt that he was its most deserving recipient.

Latest articles