The covers of most university catalogs typically show photos of the campus or students lounging around the quad, or just present a plain typographic title. The covers for the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension catalog are an exception to the norm. Since 1990, they have featured the works of several of the world’s best-known graphic designers, beginning with Paul Rand.
Developed and led by UCLA’s long-time creative director InJu Sturgeon, the Masters of Design series of covers are meant to communicate the scope of UCLA Extension’s continuing education program. As the story goes, Sturgeon first approached Rand, then 75-years-old, and asked if he would design the inaugural cover. Rand refused, but Sturgeon persisted, telling him that her goal was to turn the covers into works of public art that could enjoyed by thousands of people. Rand relented and created a snow-capped orange for the Winter Quarter 1990 cover. The rest is history. Rand not only set the quality standard for the covers, his participation encouraged other noteworthy designers to follow his lead. Such legends as Saul Bass, Lou Danziger, Frank Gehry, Ivan Chermayoff, Eiko Ishioka, Henry Wolf, George Tscherney, and Milton Glaser are among the dozens of designers who created UCLA Extension catalog covers.
The impressive collection has been shown in exhibitions and top designers consider the invitation to design the catalog cover an honor that they are unlikely to refuse.