Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Father of Grunge {Design} & Ray Gun

"Don't mistake legibility for communication"
-David Carson

Perhaps the most important & influential music and culture magazine of the entire 90's was a bold graphic statement published by Marvin Scott Jarrett & directed by David Carson, it was called Ray Gun. Many of you will be familiar with Jarrett as he is the co-founder of Nylon magazine however the true genius, or sheer accident of the magazine falls upon Carson's three monumental years there. It remains pointless to argue if he knew what he was doing the whole time or as he admits "flat-out mistakes" were made in the proofing stages, regardless it changed things, drastically.

The first three years {circa 1992-95} saw Carson break every imaginable rule in the book and literally set the style and feel for the next five years or seven following art directors. One of the better tales of Ray Gun is Carson's boredom & blatant disgust towards a rather bland interview with Brian Ferry that he decided read better in Zap Dingbat. For those unfamiliar with Zap Dingbat, it's the one at the bottom of your font list and consists of only symbols.

The brilliance behind Carson's design first lies in his naivety towards the medium followed by his passion & emotional attachment towards his work. He admits, in reference to breaking the rules, that he knew nothing of them as he was self taught; it was only later someone explained the word "modernists" to him. In regards to his passion & emotional involvement to his work, self indulgence comes to mind at first yet a second look provides the answer. His type treatment & layouts ooze feelings and thus create an automatic response, sometimes good & sometimes bad, you in a sense are visually reading the article before you even read the first word. When its good, it's bloody great but when it goes astray, well it is what it is, a giant experiment.

So, if you bothered to read this far we happen upon a small collection of post-carson Ray Gun issues that convey the spirt & awesomeness that Carson started. Unfortunately this collection {1996/7/8} went for around a hundred or so dollars on eBay so the chances of getting the early stuff (Carson Era) are slim. However enjoy the period dubbed "grunge type" and a few of our favorite pages below:

Cheers to Jeff for letting us borrow these period pieces, hopefully there is something for everyone in there.

Just one more bit;
Artist Series: Design: David Carson (Interview)
{via HillmanCurtis}

Blasting on ya'll,
The Nutopia Norm


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