Monday, January 19, 2009

David Carson Thinks Legible Type is Over-Rated

David Carson is sometimes referred to as a grunge typographer because his often tortured layouts sacrifice legibility for emotional impact. He is often quoted as saying "Don't mistake legibility for readability." As a result he is often attacked by more formalistic designers. His designs for the magazine Ray Gun helped explode the possibilities of text on a page.

Carson's boundary-breaking typography in the 1990s, in Ray Gun magazine and other pop-cult books, ushered in a new vision of type and page design. He quite simply, broke the traditional mold of type on a page and demanding fresh eyes from the reader. Squishing, smashing, slanting and enchanting the words on a layout, Carson made the point, over and over, that letters on a page are art. You can see the influence of his work to this day, on Flash intro pages, skateboards and T-shirts.

His first book, with Lewis Blackwell and a foreword by David Byrne, is The End of Print, which he wryly points out is in its 5th printing. He has written or collaborated on several other books, including Book of Probes, an exploration of the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. His latest book is Trek, a collection of his recent work.

Click on the heading above to see his often humorous review of his work at the TED conference.

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