099: David Carson/The End of Print

David Carson, Crawley, October 2019. Photo: Tozer

Every so often this podcast throws up some proper pinch-yourself moments, and this conversation with graphic design titan David Carson is one such occasion.

Carson is, without question, the most notorious graphic designer of the last thirty years. His reach is total and his influence completely ubiquitous, as anybody who has worked in the media during that time will tell you.

He also has a strong link to the action sports world, whether through his work designing titles such as Transworld back in the day, or as a hardcore surfer who avidly reads Beach Grit each day and counts Mikey Dora as a personal hero.

Photo: Tozer

He’s been a dream guest for years, but somebody I always assumed I’d never get the chance to interview. So when friend of the podcast David Benedek asked me to go and meet Carson any Gatwick airport to pick up some prints and record an interview, I leapt at the chance.

The result was a highly enjoyable, meandering chat that took in the highlights of Carson’s career and his views on surf culture, while showcasing his puckish sense of humour and insatiable curiosity.

Photo: Tozer

My thanks to David Benedek for making this one happen, and to Carson himself for being such a great sport on a rainy night in Gatwick.

Listen to the episode below:

Connect with David

Show Notes

  • Medium-level jetlag.
  • Trip to India.
  • “Goa Slow”
  • Design Conference in Goa, India.
  • Raygun magazine fans.
  • Fond memories of Beach Culture.
  • Laird Hamilton in the first Surfer’s Journal advert.
  • Working with Neil Feineman.
  • The disconnect between editorial and ads.
  • “We’ll do our own magazine”.
  • The birth of Transworld.
  • “I’d teach all day then do the magazine in the afternoons”.
  • The “difficult birth” of Transworld Snowboarding.
  • “Surfers are a surprisingly conservative group overall”.
  • Fired by Musician.
  • Freedom at Transworld.
  • “I was 26 when I first heard of Graphic Design”.
  • His career change.
  • Visual learner.
  • “Always scanning”.
  • 2 week design course.
  • “If money wasn’t an issue, would you do that same job?”.
  • “I never learned the things I wasn’t supposed to do”.
  • Labour of love.
  • Top collaborators at Raygun.
  • Getting a call from David Burn.
  • Commercial projects.
  • pre-Photoshop days.
  • Surfer hate mail.
  • The sanitisation of surf culture.
  • The art of writing.
  • “You could have the best article in the world. But no one would read it if it looks boring”.
  • First surf hero.
  • ‘All for a Few Perfect Waves’ by David Rensin.
  • Derek Hynd’s house fire.
  • “Harmless bland people find nothing offensive”.
  • Dullness of surf contests.
  • Article about Kelly Slater’s wave pool.
  • Dave’s secret surf spot. 
  • “Having a season to myself”
  • Finding daily inspiration.

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