If you don’t know David Carson, you should. One of the world’s most distinctive—and most imitated—type designers, his boundary-busting typography broke the mold for how type on a page could look, and ushered in a new vision of type and page design. Complex listed him among the 30 most influential designers of all time, and Apple selected him as one of their 30 most innovative users, calling him “a pioneer with a profound impact.” David’s first book is The End of Print, and his latest, a collection of his recent work, is Trek. We are over the moon that David joined us for our mini-interview series, 4 Questions 4.
1. How did you get into the business of type design?
When I was designing the music magazine Ray Gun, people were sending me fonts from all over the world, hoping they would get used in the magazine. The internet was still in its early stages, and font designers needed exposure for their work. Back then they looked primarily to print for that. Seeing all these fonts I was being sent sparked my interest in font design. I started a font company called Garage Fonts. I thought that was a good name at the time, and better-sounding than “homemade” or “grunge”! We sold many of the fonts that I used in Ray Gun through Garage Fonts.
2. What fonts or type design trends are you loving these days?
I’m enjoying seeing a continued and renewed interest in those done by hand. Early on, I was against trying to do fonts that looked hand-done on the computer, but font design has come a long way since then. I enjoy new twists on old, traditional fonts, and I think it’s important that fonts have a unique feel or personality. That is often best achieved in subtle ways.
3. Which of your designs are you most proud of, and why?
I’d say my early magazine work with Beach Culture Magazine, along with work from the band Nine Inch Nails is what I’m most proud of. My work for Microsoft and Armani were also unique challenges. Both involved finessing the traditional fonts they’d used for all their branding materials. Those I’m pretty proud of.
But I hope the work I’m most proud of is still to come. I’m currently designing the look and feel, and fonts, for the world’s first PAV (personal air vehicle, i.e. flying car). That is a completely different audience and product, so its a great challenge. Hopefully this fall you’ll see the results.
4. Describe your dream project.
I think I’ve done a few of them already. I’ve been given an unusual amount of freedom in my career, due in part to my early success with the magazine work. Any project that gives me a lot of creative freedom, and a new topic or audience, is great. So is good visibility. And if the design can be for something that actually helps make the world a bit better or humane, then that’s extra special.