Boundaries are meant to be broken

A quick run through two influential graphic designers.

April Greiman

Born 22nd March 1948

April Greiman is a challenger of interdisciplinary boundaries, blending technology, science, word, image, colour, and space.

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From 1966 – 1970, April studied Graphic Design at Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri, in which she became introduced to modernist design. Following this, April furthered her studies for another year at Allgemeine Künstgewerberschule Basel, nowadays known as the Basel School of Design. It was at this school that April became influenced by the international and New Wave style by Wolfgang Weingart, whom which discards using grids for typography and elements.

“He freed us up to experiment and try different things and think about type, not merely as the little column of stuff you put at the bottom of a page or flow into a grid system, but as something that could be expressive. In a sense, it encouraged me to start to see type as image”. 

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April then brought New Wave style back to New York.  

NEW WAVE – Typography which uses inconsistent letter spacing, varying type weights within single words and typeset at unusual angles.

In 1967, April developed her studio ‘Made in Space’ in Los Angeles. “What I immediately loved about L.A., and still love, is the way the boundaries are never fixed. That’s the advantage of having so little local tradition.”

The ’70s was the digital revolution, a shift from mechanical and analog to digital electronics. It was the beginning of mass production and the internet, the introduction of home computers, video game consoles, arcade games, and digital phones. This digital shift concerned many contemporary designers that machines would compromise the international style, but not April. She embraced the idea of computer technology and unleashed its potential as a design tool. We can see throughout April’s works, the exposure of pixelation and digitisation errors.

“You can really follow a technological thread through my work, from high-end photography, to videography, to computer work, to hybridized design, to motion, to doing things that had sound”. – April Greiman

In 1981, April was the head of the Design Department at The California Institute of the Arts. Here she explored and experimented with new digital tools that became influential to her work. Whilst having this position, she aimed to rename the graphic design department to visual communications. As there was a limitation in graphic design, the label seemed to focus on printing processes of posters, rather than philosophical and visual ideas. In 1984, April returned to ‘Made in Space’ to work on the Macintosh Computer, in which Designers still disregarded it as a design tool.

‘Does It Make Sense?’ is a poster from issue No. 133 of Design Quarterly, by April Greiman

“I’m going to tackle something new and learn a new piece of software, use my video equipment, and just try some things.” – April Greiman

Does it make sense is a radical collaboration of April’s skill set, thoughts and abilities. The concept was triggered by questioning creativity. April sees herself as a ‘trans-media artist’ rather than a graphic designer as she combines elements such as technology, imagery and typography which we can see in this piece.

David Carson

Born 8th September 1955

David Carson significantly changed the public face of graphic design through his unique relationship between typography and design.


Prior to David’s groundbreaking design, he was a competitive surfer, ranking 9th in the world, as well as a high-school teacher in California.

At 26, David’s interest in graphic design began after a short 2-week design course at The University of Arizona as part of a sociology degree, taught by Swiss designer Hans-Rudolf Lutz. David was so intrigued he made a decision to enrol fulltime at a commercial Art School. Following this, David designed part-time for four years at Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. Here, he experimented and developed his now characteristic style of chaotic spread, overlapping photos and mixed, altered typefaces.

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In 1989, David became the art director of Beach Culture Magazine, which only lasted six issues. – More than enough for David to win over 150 design awards – “Best Overall Design” and “Cover of the Year” awarded by the Society of Publication Designers, New York.

1992, David then became the art director of Ray Gun Magazine, in which his radical design vision captured the youth, he tripled the Magazine’s circulation. Raygun was an alternative music magazine. Carson created his colourful, retro collage inspired works based on how the music spoke to him. His work at Raygun became hugely recognitional that corporations such as Nike and Levis Strauss & Co commissioned him to do some design work.

1995, Raygun was dismissed and David Carson Design was established. David’s work is specialisation rather than a generalisation of graphic design, branding, advertising, consulting, web, print and digital.

His clients expanded, he began working with large corporations such as Microsoft, Pepsi and Giorgio Armani. David’s work has not only changed the face of graphic design, but his works influenced the taste of the generation.

Davids interest in sociology encouraged his design work, as he clearly speaks visually and emotionally to his audience through his practice.

A strong concept and or great writing, combined with great design is when the most effective communication occurs, and where the best work happens. – David Carson

The surfing subculture is significant to David as he was able to identify and learn about his target audience, in which he developed his practice and distinct style.


Characteristic style

  • Chaotic Spread
  • Overlapping photos
  • altered typefaces
  • Own shape and direction
  • Highly expressive use of typography
  • Encouragement of Audience participation
  • Use of layout to explore meaning
  • Reverse reading of texts
  • Extreme forced justification
  • Expressive manner of sequences
  • Columns jammed together with no gutter
  • Erractic letter spacing


Don’t mistake legibility for communication” – David Carson




Author: yanks

half optimist half pessimist half realist

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