Design Classics: Ray Gun cover by David Carson

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A former sociology teacher and professional surfer, David Carson is the graphic designer whose work for the magazine Ray Gun epitomised the grunge aesthetic of the 1990s. His work set the visual style for a generation of bands and MTV audiences and, according to Newsweek Magazine “changed the public face of graphic design”.

Carson’s style is avowedly self-indulgent, using non-traditional lettering and imagery and smashing them together in an often seemingly indecipherable morass. For Carson, typography was art and the way he combined it with the background drew the viewer into the piece, making them work to both read the text and understand it in contest with the imagery.

Considered by some an enfant terrible of the graphic design world, his work is not without its critics – many of them vocal on how his cacophony of image and text went against the very grain of graphic design as a mode of easing and improving communication. But his style has gone on to inspire and be imitated by a generation and his first book ‘The End of Print’ is the biggest selling graphic design tome in the world

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