Since 1994, Pentagram’s Paula Scher has been collaborating with The Public Theater in New York on a remarkable body of graphic design that has influenced much of the branding created for theatrical promotion and for cultural institutions in general. Scher documents this ongoing relationship in the new monograph Twenty-Five Years at the Public: A Love Story, out this week from Princeton Architectural Press.
The book is the most comprehensive survey of Scher’s work for The Public to date, collecting hundreds of her posters, including those for Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, the original production of Hamilton, and many Shakespeare in the Park productions, along with materials related to the process of creating the identity and campaigns. Scher has guided the identity through three updates over the years, and integrated the graphics into the architecture of the theater itself when The Public’s facade and lobby were revitalized in 2013.
Scher’s original identity for The Public responded to the theater’s mission to provide accessible and innovative performances, creating a graphic language that reflected street typography in its extremely active, unconventional and almost graffiti-like juxtaposition. After these initial campaigns, the Public’s typographic style started popping up everywhere, from magazine layouts to advertising for other shows. As a result, Scher has had to continuously change the look of The Public to stay fresh, and each year, the season design changes in the use and spirit of Knockout, the font of the Public identity.
With the identity, Scher also successfully answered one of the biggest challenges that most performing arts institutions will face––promoting individual productions versus the institution as a whole. The solution was to create a framework where each individual can shine within the institution, a holistic approach to branding that can be applied to any organization or company.
The book includes essays by two of the theater’s Artistic Directors, George C. Wolfe (1993-2004) and Oskar Eustis (2005-present), as well as design critics Steven Heller and Ellen Lupton. A special edition of the book includes a set of mini reproductions of Shakespeare in the Park posters.