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Paula Scher studied at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and began her graphic design career as a record cover art director at both Atlantic and CBS Records in the 1970s. From 1984, she co-founded and ran Koppel & Scher in New York for seven years, then joined Pentagram as a principal in 1991.

In the 1970s and early '80s Scher's eclectic, period-oriented typography for records and books became widely influential and imitated. She has often been credited as the major proponent of "retro" design. However, her body of work is broader and more idea-based than this suggests. She uses historical design to make visual analogies, and for its emotional impact and immediate appeal to contemporary audiences.

Scher has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a wide range of clients including The New York Times Magazine, the American Museum of Natural History, the Asia Society, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Phillips-Van Heusen, Anne Klein, Citigroup, 3Com, Herman Miller, Metropolis and the New York Botanical Garden. In 1996, Scher's highly influential identity for the Public Theater won the coveted Beacon Award for integrated corporate design strategy.

Scher's work is represented in the permanent collections of New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Zurich Poster Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. A book on her work was published in 1998 by China Youth Press.

In addition to the Beacon Award, she has received literally hundreds of design awards including four Grammy nominations from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. In 1998 she was named to The Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and in 2000 she received the prestigious Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. In 2001 she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa from the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

Scher has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York for 19 years, and currently teaches a course on identity design in the new graduate program dedicated to authorship. She is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale.

Her series, “News: 2001-2003”, (2004 works on paper), will premiere in the group show, “Repetitions” (Maya Stendhal Gallery, 2005).