On April 25, 1996 one of the all time greats of the design world died. Saul Bass was a graphic designer as famous at the time for his thick round rimmed glasses as for the trademarked style and the volume of work that he produced over a career spanning 40 years.
He designed many notable brand identities for major US companies such as AT&T, Bell Telephone, Esso and United Airlines. Probably his most recognisable work though was done for the film industry where he created his deceptively simple posters and screen title sequences, such as the one below for the 1959 hit Anatomy of a Murder. Other films to benefit from his unique approach include The man with the Golden Arm (1955), Vertigo (1958), Phsyco (1960) and Westside Story (1961), to name but a few.
Bass is often quoted as saying “Design is thinking made visible.” And this philosophy has been an inspiration for generations of designers and illustrators ever since. I’ll gladly admit to being no exception, more than a few projects I have been involved in have had a decidedly SB approach. See more here
Though he reached the pinnacle of his career in the 50s and 60s he continued to create striking graphics right up until he died at the age of 75. His more recent work, including the title sequences to Martin Scorsese’s films Goodfellas and Cape Fear had moved with the times and incorporated acted scenes, but undoubtably it will be for his early work that he will be most fondly remembered.
I’ll leave you with this 2008 award winning sequence, a homage from fellow Bass fans – Kuntzel and Deygas’s.
Saul Bass (1920-1996). Gone but surely never to be forgotten.