While at Columbia University he was working on a dissertation on the life and work of W. A. Dwiggins. As the same time he began to take on free-lance lettering jobs as a means of paying tuition. After several years, the lettering and typeface designs became more important than finishing his dissertation. Shaw has done work for clients as diverse as Campbell Soup, Revlon, and NBC.
Paul Shaw created the fonts Goeteborg, Kolo (1996, with Garrett Boge), Stockholm™ and Uppsala.