David Carson

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The Relevance of David Carson’s typography work to identity, play, visual language and conceptualism

I will be discussing Post-Modernism with the typography works of American graphic designer David Carson. Using examples of his work, this essay will cover visual language, conceptualism and parody and play. Carson is well known for his grunge typography, seen many times in his work for Ray Gun magazine (Carson, n.d.). In relation to Post-Modernism, his body of typography work is what makes him really stand above the crowd as a graphic designer. Carson is always looking at his work with a strong sense of self indulgence. His works are always very self-centred as he created, judged his own work and designed for himself - while his sense of identity changed throughout his life. Carson believes in our individuality as people with the inclusion of technology and computers, if the designs and graphics lack human input, it doesn’t communicate to us well as an audience (Carson, 2003). Identity is focused on people – and Carson always works on communicating his ideas to people. He communicates to many with his quotes – there is a different identity in different pieces he creates. He stresses in his talks the importance of the individual, of people in graphic design and communication. No one can draw from the same experiences as we do.

Untitled Spread [video]. (2003).
From his identity as first a sociology teacher, to a professional surfer, to an art director and then to a graphic designer, Carson’s identity has changed over the years. He never had any professional training as a graphic designer; some believe that his identity is not that of a graphic designer. Carson himself however views himself as a graphic artist and that his past jobs and past identities are part of, but not encompassing everything he is today. (Carson, 2003) Carson’s typography is generally very outspoken and experimental. While it does not lack purpose (a Modernistic quality) it certainly...
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