Born in Bronx, New York, Saul Bass grew up in a family of Jewish immigrants. From early childhood, he revealed his creative flair through drawings, paper crafts, and lettering, along with his passion for movies and museums. Yet, his true artistic education commenced in 1936, when Bass was noticed for his painted sign designs that earned him a scholarship to the Arts Students League in Manhattan.
Upon completion of his studies, Bass continued to search for ways to let out his restless imagination. For the first few years, he started working as a freelancer for several advertising companies, including the Warner Bros. Then in the 1940s, Bass finally left for Los Angeles, home to some of the greatest avant-garde filmmakers in the world. Encountering the thriving contemporary culture of L.A, he found opportunities in filmmaking and advertisement.
Pursuing his creative explorations, Saul Bass made a bold move to go independent in 1955. Throughout the decade after establishing his own firm, he worked flexibly across a broad range of design projects. A challenge seeker, Bass generated a virtual explosion of work, including film title sequences, film production, photography, identity design, and environments.
In the late 1950s, Bass encountered Elaine, who became his life-long film collaborator and beloved wife. Over the next fifty years, Saul and Elaine designed more than fifty opening sequences for films including West Side Story, Spartacus, and Casino. Eventually, their final big step was to create their own, where they produced a series of award winning short films, including the Oscar-winning Why Man Creates.
Utilizing a broad range of cinematic techniques like animation, split screen, zoom photography, and even underwater photography, Saul and Elaine experimented with special effects and visual aesthetics to express the message of the films. Their powerful collaboration in projects continued even after their children were born (Jennifer in 1964 and Jefferey in 1967). Equipping their homes with studio workspaces, they would allow their children to freely roam around, create their own art projects, and even take part in small roles in the film set.