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aula Scher is an East Coast native. “I was born in Virginia, then my family moved to Maryland.
I grew up in the suburbs, where every house looked the same.” One of her earliest visual memories
was seeing the record cover for the 1949 Broadway cast recording of the musical South Pacific
in her parents’ record collection. “I remember seeing this picture of an anchor, with Mary Martin’s face
fitting perfectly into the anchor shape. I remember liking it.” Scher always felt that she wanted to be
an artist, but it took her a while to rule out her other options. “I knew, but I didn’t know what a graphic
designer was. I also wanted to be a singer-dancer-piano player-bareback rider.”
It was her knack for drawing that soon led her to focus on art. “It was probably around the time I was
10 years old. I had always drawn by myself, off in my room. When I got to junior high, I became known
as the school artist. In the sixth grade, I did a transportation mural in a hallway at school. I had the
highways going backward, so my teacher teased me that I was British.” Scher enjoyed the artist’s life.
“I found it was the only thing at which I was really good. In junior high and high school, I took Saturday
art courses. I felt at home. The lifestyle was part of it, too. It was how I felt.” Her art teachers recognized
her talent and encouraged her. Scher still remembers an early honor. “In high school one of my teachers,
Mr. Tucker, hung a ‘Picture of the Week’ in a glass display case—a lot of them were mine.” During
this time she got more and more interested in graphic design and remembers being fascinated by great
album covers, “especially the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and Revolver and Cream’s Disraeli Gears.
119
PAULA
SCHER
After establishing herself early on as a designer of record sleeves
and predicting that her epitaph would read “She designed the Boston
cover”—Paula Scher has taken over New York with her exuberant
and kinetic typography for the Public Theater and other cultural institutions.
14
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