Saul Bass

The designer I chose to research about was Saul Bass. Saul Bass was born on May 8th, 1920 and he was a graphic designer who was well known and worked very well with designing film posters and title sequences for movies. He was born in Bronx, New York from European Jewish immigrants. He was known to be a ‘minimalist’. He went to study at Brooklyn College, where he did classes with György Kepes who was a famous Hungarian-born designer. Once he completed his school and studies, he moved to being a freelancer for advertising companies, one being Warner Bros., before moving to Los Angeles to pursue graphic design and become a commercial artist. While doing this he started up his own practice, and made his firm Saul Bass & Associates. After making his own firm, he finally got his big break with filmmaker Otto Preminger who asked him to design a poster for his movie Carmen Jones. He had a long forty-year career and worked for a lot of filmmakers, one being Alfred Hitchcock who Saul made the title sequence for many movies including Vertigo and Psycho. While also being a well know title sequence maker, he also made a lot of logos in his time alive including Quaker Oats, United, Dixie cups, AT&T, etc. Although many of the logos have been changed, he has made and rendered the first or so logos that were made for these companies, (Art of the Title).

What makes Saul Bass interesting or special is that while working throughout his career, he worked beside his wife Elaine Bass for most of it. Also, Elaine and Saul met after they worked together on the opening title sequence of Spartacus in 1960, and were soon married afterwards. They went on to have two children, Jennifer and Jeffrey and then continued to work together on title sequences, short films, and their family.

I believe other designers should know about Saul Bass’s work because he was one of the first designers to make minimalist designs. He also worked hard to make logos for different companies. Even with his children around he continued to work hard considering all of the work he had to put into to make sure everything came out looking nice. He made logos that were meant to be ‘clean’ or ‘thoughtful’ and that were made to last for a long time like Kleenex or the AT&T logo. The Kleenex logo that Saul Bass made is still the logo for the brand nowadays, which showcases that his work can make it the long run. I also think other designers should know about his work because he wasn’t even known for title credits until after he made his first poster for the 1954 film, Carmen Jones. In doing this, he became more famous for the title sequences because the filmmakers of Carmen Jones asked him to make them. This furthered his career and made him eligible to work on different films doing other work instead of just the poster. He help revolutionize title credits in film because before him the title credits were just boring and static, where “they were considered so unimportant that they would project them onto the closed curtains which would only open for the first official scene of the movie,” (Bigman). He made a lot of different designs in his title sequences like his signature move which was “kinetic type”, where his letters on the screen moved with different incorporated images as well as the text. Many times when the movies where he made the title sequences for they would leave a note for the movie theaters to open the curtain before the titles to showcase his work.

The kind of effect Saul Bass on the design world is that he helped make ‘clean icons’ and ‘minimalist designs’ a more respectable aspect of design. He also helps bring life to many different companies with the incorporation of the logos that he made. Many of his logos that he has made are still the same nowadays, with a little bit of change to them even though they keep the same aspect. Bass states, “If it’s simple simple, it’s boring. We try for the idea that is so simple that it will make you think and rethink,” (The Christian Science Monitor). In this quote he brings in the idea that his simple ideas aren’t super simple that people will think it’s just boring. He brings in an aspect that will make people think about his work. There were many times where companies where asked if they would switch their logo and many companies chose the keep their logo made by Bass because ‘you cannot improve upon perfection’. The way he effected the design world is that he created identities for a lot of corporations that might not have had identities if it wasn’t for him.

The design work that Saul Bass is most known for is his ‘minimalistic design’, ‘clean design’, or ‘logo design’. He developed a unique style that is still used to this day. He is known for his mostly simple geometric shapes in his posters that seem to deliver a powerful message most of the time. He is also known well for his work in film, making title sequences for many famous movies, where his title sequences felt like animated graphic design which showcases his design elements that is usually on paper, but now through video. I believe that the people that helped change or shape Saul Bass’s life have to be his wife Elaine, but also György Kepes because he was the first person to work with Saul. The filmmakers of the Carmen Jones film also helped shape his well-established career in producing title sequences. Some adjectives that I would describe Saul Bass would be charming because I believe that he started a wave of new designs that could be used in further areas of graphic design. He helped minimalistic design to become bigger and a stronger category.  Also could use the adjective determined, because he was determined to make sure that his graphic designs turned out how he wanted them.


Works Cited:

“Saul Bass.” Art of the Title,

“How Saul Bass Changed Design.” The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 May 2013,

Bigman, Alex. “Saul Bass: The Man Who Changed Graphic Design.” 99designs, 99designs, 14 Mar. 2018,