Friday, May 05, 2023

Paul Giambarba 1928 - 2023


Graphic designer, cartoonist, illustrator, children's book creator, the man behind Polaroid's corporate identity ... and more ... Paul Giambarba passed away peacefully at his Cape Cod home this past Monday. He was 94. 

I have known Paul for over 20 years, first thru online forums, and then we met a couple of times when I moved to New England. He was a dynamic talent, as well as a wonderful soul. 



Above: Paul and his lovely wife Fran.

In 2008, I drove to his house for lunch.

"Paul is a go-to guy. He's done gag cartoons, he's the fellow responsible for the design of the Polaroid packaging, he's worked for Graphis, Gillette, Tonka, GE and many other major clients. He's won awards from the Art Directors Club of New York and the Art Directors Club of Boston, to name but two. He's lectured, he's founded his own publishing imprint, Scrimshaw Press. And he's the author/illustrator of children's books. The great thing is that he has a series of blogs talking about his career and methods."



Paul was Polaroid's creative director for Polaroid for a quarter of a century, designing its now-iconic stand-out packaging. 

My friend, the graphic novelist Brian Fies, was also a friend and picks up Paul's story:

Following his Polaroid years, Paul was a design consultant for Tonka Toys and other corporate clients. As a cartoonist and illustrator, he was a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated, This Week, True and Spy magazines. Paul and his work were written up in many trade publications, and his list of awards from advertising, art direction, design and graphic arts organizations is long.

Paul lived the last decades of his life on Cape Cod with his second wife, Fran. He told me that after traveling the world he felt the most at home there, and the region inspired him to do more art and write more books. Paul remained very active in what for other people might be retirement, and was remarkably open to new technologies and ideas. In particular, he embraced Photoshop--having spent most of his career doing paste-ups, layouts, color separations, typesetting, etc. the laborious, manual way--and, as he had with Polaroid half a century earlier, really pushed its capabilities to serve him instead of the other way around. 

In more recent years, Paul enjoyed a well-deserved Renaissance of sorts, as Polaroid suddenly became hip again and people got very interested in the man who'd made it hip in the first place. Through a group called The Impossible Project, which set out to manufacture modern Polaroid film, he became the subject of documentaries and art exhibitions. The company even produced a special line of film named after him. It was a nice, graceful cap to a career he was rightly very proud of.
There's a great gallery of Paul's work at Brian's link. 
Paul will be deeply missed. I am so thankful he left so much of his art and design and stories to us.


Brian Fies said...

A good remembrance of a great man. Thanks, Mike!

Unknown said...

"Paul F. Giambarba (October 15, 1928 - May 1, 2023) died peacefully at his home in Mashpee, MA on May 1, 2023, surrounded by his family's love, after a brief illness."
The Cape Cod Times obituary: