On November 9th, a highly anticipated book is being published; Saul Bass; A Life in Film & Design. Bass was considered one of the greatest American designers of the 20th century and influenced the identity of many classic films with his graphic title contributions. Saul Bass lived from 1920 to 1996. During his remarkable lifetime he created many high visible compelling images in the pop and commercial worlds.
Saul Bass; A Life in Film & Design is the first book to cover the work and influence of Bass. The 440 page book is written by noted design historian Pat Kirkham and contains over 1,400 illustrations and images, many of them published for the first time. The images include old photographs, movie posters and product labels all with his unique style.
According to the book’s publishers, Laurence King Publishers , some of Bass’s most iconic work was for movie posters and title sequences for films like Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Bass contributed far beyond Hollywood, designing many famous logos and big business campaigns for companies such as Kleenex, Girl Scouts, United Airlines, AT&T, Dixie, Minolta, and Quaker Oats.
Saul’s wife, Elaine, contributed significantly too to their collective creative output. Starting in the late 1950s as a team, they started receiving acclaim with their award-winning short films such as the Oscar-winning Why Man Creates. Their collaboration spanned from 1960’s with series such as Stanley Kubrick s Spartacus to the 1990’s and Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and Casino.
Bass was known as a master visual communicator. He contributed on a range of graphic design projects; book and album covers, packaging, typefaces, retail displays, toys, and even a postal stamp. His range included illustrating children’s books, working with architects and his film series.
Saul Bass felt strongly about the creative process “I want everything we do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.”
Keeping the family theme, daughter and fellow designer, Jennifer Bass, contribute in the book and edited its contents. There are a number of tributes by respected graphic designers littered through the text.
The forward was written by Martin Scorsese, who worked with Bass on Cape Fear, Goodfellas, and other films. The overall effect is to give an in-depth account and homage to the iconic designer who was able to give anyone the ability to relate to his Modern Art-influenced style. He was a determined artist who didn’t fear making mistakes or many versions until he got it right.
Any fan of graphic design would appreciate this book, for its creative process insights, its history of 20th century design developments and inspiration of reading about the life of the iconic Saul Bass who touched so many of us graphically.
Leaving Bass with the final word on creativity and diversity of project, Bass states “A modest amount of imagination with a great ability to persevere can produce an important work. By simultaneously working on a variety of problems, I find that one creative problem helps me solve another.”