Keeping the human touch in graphic design, according to designer David Carson

David Carson has created unforgettable covers for the likes of Wallpaper, Beach Cult Culture, Raygun and most recently The Drum, and has worked with brands including Audi, Bose and Samsung.

Given nothing more than 'Welcome to Cyberville' as a brief, Carson came back with over twenty cover options for The Drum's magazine editor Thomas O'Neill to chose from. Managing to whittle it down to six, the final decision was left to our readers who selected two different covers for the June issue of the magazine.

At The Drum's evening with Carson, he lectured creatives in London about finding inspiration from the "things that other people don’t see" while reminding creatives that brands will always want to see "the human touch".

“A hint can be more intriguing”

While showing work from a beer company, which he claims was a “very secret beer company,” Carson said he preferred to tease people with adverts to grab their attention.

It’s all about finding that one strong identifier and letting people use their imaginations. You shouldn’t have to scream the product, the hint should be enough to advertise the product.

One thing that Carson really hammered home when it comes to standing out as a graphic designer is not necessarily using everything you are handed. Often the covers Carson has created stand out as he will heavily crop or rotate the image.

Speaking of one in particular, a newsagent had racked the publication the wrong way round because of how he had placed the image on the page.

“Use the environment and everyday stuff”

The message Carson kept hammering home was the need not to search for inspiration. He doesn’t understand when people suffer the likes of writers block because as a creative, you should find inspiration from everything around you to create.

“You can’t run out of ideas, because you can’t read something and have no reaction.” In short, the avid surfer tells people to get our from behind the screen sometimes. Go out and use your hands and bring the design together manually rather, and record your reaction.

“Show that a human got a hold of it”

A lot of the time, design can seem very digital and computerised, therefore to stand out in design, it is important to show human touch was involved.

Carson showed an example of this when talking about the work he did for American car brand Chrysler where he went back into the typeface and changed a single letter to a lower case to show the human interaction with the design.

Bring your work to life

If you are pitching to a client, you can send them loads of options, but why not make it move. “Clients love it when their stuff starts moving around the screen,” Carson explained.

Often when the graphic designer creates more than one design, he will make a collage of them together and make them move, similar to if he created images for a magazine page.

Don’t be scared of doing something strange with the space

Carson is best known for his design and input in the surf and skateboard magazine world, and one thing he like to do is use the space.

An example of work he showed was when one magazine spoke with skateboarder Tony Hawk and he put the entire interview in the O of his name.

Even something as innocuous as a contents page was of interest to Carson and the use of space. He showed an example where he changed the focus for the page to the numbers, which was then echoed throughout the entire mag.

Pick up your copy of The Drum magazine, with special covers designed by Carson himself, here.

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