Blog Post #4 Typography – David Carson

Annette Wagenhofer

March 4, 2015

4 D Design 2

Blog Post #4



David Carson was born on September 8, 1954 in Corus Christi, Texas. He attended San Diego University. Graduating with a BA in  Sociology. His was first introduced to graphic design in 1980 at the University of Arizona during a two week graphics course by Jackson Boelts. From 82-87 he worked as a teacher in Torrey Pines High School in San Diego. During this time he started to experiment with graphic design and found himself immersed in the artistic and bohemian culture of southern California. He attended a workshop in Switzerland in graphic design as part of his degree which he was working on at the Oregon College of Commercial Art. It was at this workshop he was greatly influenced by the teacher Hans-Rudolf Lutz.

He is an American graphic designer & art director. and. He is best known for his innovative magazine design, and use of experimental typography.. He was the art director for the magazine Ray Gun in which he designed much of the typographic and layout style for which he is known. His helped to define the so-called “grunge typography” era.

Carson first became the art director of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine in 84. He helped to give the magazine a distinctive edge.  By the end of his employment there in 88 he had developed his signature style using “dirty type and non mainstream photographic techniques.

Publishers of Surfer Magazine asked Carson to design Beach Culture, a quarterly publication. He would make his first significant impact on the world of graphic design and typography with ideas that were called innovative by those that weren’t fond of his style.  In a world which readers strict attention relied on legibility, he featured an ad on a blind surer, he opened this ad with a two page spread covered in black.

He worked for Ray Gun an alternative music magazine in 92. One issue he notoriously used Dingbat a font containing only symbols when he created the spread for a dull interview with Bryan Ferry. Carson eventually left Ray Gun to find his own studio in NY City. He attracted major clients all aver the U.S. over the span of 3 years from 95-98 he would do work for Pepsi, Ray Ban, Nike, Microsoft, Budweiser, Armani, NBC, American Airlines and Levi’s.

Carson along with Tina Meyers designed the crowfoot typeface used in the film The Crow: City of Angels. He went on to design the first issue of Blue and adventure lifestyle magazine. His cover design for the first issue was selected as one of the top 40 magazine covers of all time by the American Society of Magazine Editors. By 2000 he closed his NY City studio and relocated to Charleston, SC. He has worked as a lecturer holding workshops and exhibitions across Europe, South America and the U.S. He has changed the public face of graphic design.

His layouts feature distorted mixes of vernacular typefaces and fractured imagery, rendering them almost illegible. When Graphic Design USA Magazine listed the most influential disagrees of the era David Carson was listed on of the 5 all time most influential designers. He claims that his work is subjective, personal and very self indulgent.

David’s work continues to be subjective and largely driven by intuition, with an emphasis on reading material before designing it, and experimenting with ways to communicate in a variety of mediums. Carson remains a hands on designer, keeping his studio small and mobile.


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