David Carson is an American graphic designer. He is best known for his innovative magazine design, and use of experimental typography. He was the art director for the magazine Ray Gun. Carson was perhaps the most influential graphic designer of the nineties. In particular, his widely-imitated aesthetic defined the so-called “grunge” era.
His layouts featured distortions or mixes of ‘vernacular’ typefaces and fractured imagery, rendering them almost illegible. Indeed, his maxim of the ‘end of print’ questioned the role of type in the emergent age of digital design, following on from California New Wave and coinciding with experiments at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. In the later 1990s he shifted from ‘surf subculture’ to corporate work for Nike, Levis, and Citibank.
Carson became interested in a new school of typography and photography-based graphic design and is largely responsible for popularizing the style; he inspired many young designers of the 1990s. His work does not follow “traditional” graphic design standards. Carson is emotionally attached to his creations. Carson’s work is considered explorative of thoughts and ideas that become “lost” in the subconscious. Every piece is saturated, but Carson still manages to communicate both the idea and the feeling behind his design. His extensive use of combinations of typographic elements and photography led many designers to completely change their work methods and graphic designers from all around the world base their style on the new “standards” that have distinguished Carson’s work.