David Carson: Featured Speaker at Grafik15 Zurich


Grafik15 Zurich – Have Fun!

13th -15th March Maag Halle


David Carson at Grafik15

David Carson: Featured Speaker at Grafik15 Zurich Photo © Caitlin E. Krause

David Carson: Featured Speaker at Grafik15 Zurich

“Have fun.”  David Carson’s closing message is anything but glib – it’s ​profound, in truth and action.

It serves as the driving force behind the graphic designer’s body of work; a philosophy that he applies to life in general.  The international legend, known for his iconoclastic style, experimental typography, and distinctive magazine layouts, spoke at Plaza Klub on Friday night as part of Grafik15’s three day graphic arts extravaganza, taking place March 13th-15th in Zurich.  During the evening, which was much like a spontaneous, grand oeuvre tour led by sage/comedian Carson, the audience was treated to an inside glimpse of a creative brain.

Carson is an entertaining presenter, beyond doubt. At one point, he showed a photograph he had taken while driving (“texting and driving is illegal, so I take pictures while driving”) of a lone bike on the back of a huge flatbed trailer.  With his characteristic dry wit, Carson quipped, “What a way to transport a bike!”  Interspersed with his commissioned designs and publications, these odd, funny moments he captures serve as testament to his ability to notice details in his surroundings, part of the landscape that impacts and reflects his art.

Grafik15 Zurich

 David Carson: Featured Speaker at Grafik15 Zurich Photo © Caitlin E. Krause

He’s an advocate of freedom and authenticity, stressing that he believes in everything he produces. He also urges abandonment of templates. “Never use guidelines,” Carson instructs, promoting creative freedom, self-expression, and aesthetic instinct.

A surfer, former teacher, and sociology major, Carson is candid and unassuming, sharing personal stories that almost serve as design parables, in the most natural way. “Be open to accidents,” he says, noting that this doesn’t mean to celebrate mistakes, but rather to stay open to what you might not expect at first, rather than trying to control outcome.


 David Carson: Featured Speaker at Grafik15 Zurich Photo © Caitlin E. Krau

His favorite projects include working with Nine Inch Nails and Beach Culture Magazine. He uses QuarkXPress.  He painted his driveway a rainbow of colors, because plain was boring, and he painted his array of surfboards plain white, as an artistic expression. “Always do something that pleases you.” David Carson is a series of surprises, and someone who clearly loves what he does.

Grafik15 began on 13th March and continues at the Maag Halle until 8pm on 15th March. For full information see here.

Article and photos by Caitlin E. Krause


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