Page 1

david carson david davidcarson carson david carson david carson david carson david carson david david carson carson noscarson racarson c div david david nosracarson c div david nosrac div nosrac div

e early lifeefil ylrae ea David Carson was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on September 8, 1955. His early life was fairly normal, with little to no contact with graphic design. He grew up and attended high school in Cocoa Beach, Florida, but eventually moved to California to study Sociology at San Diego State University. He has been an avid surfer his whole life, and was therefore very connected with the surfing culture in southern California. In 1989 he was even named the 9th best surfer in the world. While he was surfing, Carson also taught high school using his sociology degree, that is, until his career path decided to take a drastic turn.

nrob saw nosraC divaD saxeT ,itsirhC suproC ni .5591 ,8 rebmetpeS no -riaf saw efil ylrae siH ot elttil htiw ,lamron yl cihparg htiw tcatnoc on dna pu werg eH .ngised ni loohcs hgih dednetta tub ,adirolF ,hcaeB aocoC -laC ot devom yllautneve -loicoS yduts ot ainrofi etatS ogeiD naS ta ygo neeb sah eH .ytisrevinU elohw sih refrus diva na erofereht saw dna ,efil eht htiw detcennoc yrev -htuos ni erutluc gnfirus eh 9891 nI .ainrofilaC nre ht9 eht deman neve saw .dlrow eht ni refrus tseb ,gnfirus saw eh elihW hgih thguat osla nosraC -loicos sih gnisu loohcs litnu ,si taht ,eerged ygo dediced htap reerac sih .nrut citsard a ekat ot

David Car in Corpus on Septem His early ly normal no contac design. He attended Cocoa Bea eventually ifornia to ogy at San University an avid su life, and w very conn surfing cu ern Califo was even best surfe While he Carson als school us ogy degre his career to take a

ccc design design design ction ction ction to to to ccc design design design ction ction ction to to to ccc design design design ction ction ction to to to ccc design design design

aC divaD suproC ni etpeS no ylrae siH amron yl atnoc on H .ngised dednetta eB aocoC llautneve ot ainrofi aS ta ygo tisrevinU s diva na dna ,efil noc yrev c gnfirus filaC nre neve saw frus tseb eh elihW la nosraC u loohcs rged ygo eerac sih a ekat ot

introduction introduction introduction to to to graphic graphic graphic design design design

1980 marked Carson’s first introduction to graphic design, when he received a flyer in the mail intended for high school seniors for a two week graphics program at the University of Arizona taught by Jackson Boelts. Boelts, who has received more than 400 awards for his work, later became a friend and important mentor for Carson. This experience led to him to begin to experiment in graphic design and eventually attend the Oregon College of Commercial Art in 1983. This, however, only lasted for six months, as soon after entering the college he left. Carson claims that a lot of his style and innovativeness comes from his lack of formal training in the subject, seeing as without knowledge of strict grid systems and formulas he just did whatever seemed right to him. He’s proud of his absence of design education, saying “There’s a conformity that comes out of some of the schools.”

ly career early career earl areer early career early car career early career early c er early career early career After leaving the art college, Carson’s passion for surfing led him to pester different art directors at surfing and skateboarding magazines until he finally got an unpaid internship at Action Now magazine. That same year, he attended a three week graphic design workshop in Switzerland taught by Hans-Rudolf Lutz, who became another great influence for Carson by challenging him to work experimentally. Once he had a foot in the door, he moved from magazine to magazine quickly, having short stints at both Musician and Self magazines, before he found his first major breakthrough at Transworld Skateboarding. The magazine was huge for Carson, allowing him an amount of creative freedom that some people only dream of. “They had 200 pages every month, in full color, and no budget restrictions,” Carson recalls. “I had an audience that wanted something experimental.” He became the art director of Transworld and it’s spin off Transworld Snowboarding in 1984, remaining there for few years to help them find a distinctive look and him a distinctive style. Carson’s next big break came from his work designing Beach Culture, a quarterly magazine that came out of the Surfer magazine. His work here is what began to get him noticed in the design world, as even those who were not enamored by his creations were calling his ideas innovative. This is where his famous style of illegibility really began to take hold. As some have said, “Carson shattered the nice, clean, readable grid, scattered headlines and text across overlapping photos, and raised illegibility to an art form.” He redesigned Surfer in 1990, becoming art director there for two years, before moving on to what really made him famous in the design world: Ray Gun.

y gun ray gun raygun ray gungun rayray gun gunray ray ay gun ra ray gu gun ray gun gun ray gun ray gu ray ray gun gun ray gun gun ray gun ray gun un raygun ray gun ayray gungunray gunray ray gun y gun un rayg ray y gun ray gun y gun ray g yn gun ray g n ray ray g ray ray g ygun gun gungun ay ray ra g ray y gun ray g un ray gu ay gun Ray Gun’s designs were the epitome of Carson’s style, with no one approving the designs for print but himself. His style seemed to stand out and become more important than the information on the pages themselves. He broke all standard practices of typography, making almost all of his spreads illegible and seemingly mashed together. This forced the viewer to really examine the page they were looking at in order to get any sense of it. This abandon of known conventions led to imitators of his style, which he himself has called “experimental, intuitive and personal,” and Carson’s name gaining more and more of a celebrity status.

In 1995 Carson left Ray Gun to form his own studio, David Carson Design, which he located in New York City. During this time his now recognizable status as a graphic designer allowed him to gain work for many famous clients, including Nike, Pepsi, Sony, Microsoft, MTV, Intel, and many more. During this time he also created the magazine Blue, which was a lifestyle and adventure magazine. The cover he designed for the first issue was named one of the greatest magazine covers of all time by the American Society of Magazine Editors. He also wrote his first book around this time, called “The End of Print,� which was a play off of something Neville Brody had said about Ray Gun being the end of print. He closed his New York studio in 2003 in order to be with his family, but has continued to work as art director and more for many different organizations. He has done everything from creative directing for the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston to directing commercials for Budweiser, American Airlines, and more. Through all of this, Carson has continued to teach and lecture on graphic design and being creative all around the world.


to to current

career career





sources Plagens, Peter and Ray Sawhill. “The Font of Youth.” Newsweek, vol. 127, no. 9, 26 Feb. 1996, p. 64. EBSCOhost, login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=9602207799&site=ehost-live. Butler, Andy. “Interview with Graphic Designer David Carson.” Designboom, 22 Sept. 2014, www.designboom. com/design/interview-with-graphic-designer-david-carson-09-22-2013/.

sources Lupton, Ellen. “2014 AIGA Medalist: David Carson.” AIGA, 1 Mar. 2014, “David Carson (Graphic Designer).” Wikipedia,

David Carson  
David Carson