David Carson is best associated with the digital revolution and destructionist movement of the early 90’s. He was heavily influenced by the music and surf culture of Southern California, and is known for his utter rejection of basic principles in graphic design. Carson manipulated type in ways that would have been traditionally considered aesthetically unappealing with erratic letters spacing, reverse leading, and extreme forced justification. His unique style of grunge typography was what I aimed to capture in this project.


The challenge was to create an integrated visual communication system and collateral for a retrospective exhibit on David Carson for the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. All pieces – a brochure, commemorative stamp set, and environmental application – had to feel like they belonged to the same event and appeal to museum patrons and Carson fans alike.


Since David Carson is best known for his typographic manipulation, type was central focus of the identity. I mixed two different typefaces, Poplar and Chaparral for the logo, and varied the tracking, leading, scale and angle of the letters to achieve a grunge effect. I chose a watery texture for the background to play on the Southern California surf culture. This project called for a non-traditional approach to design, using type as an expressive medium as well as a vehicle for delivering information.