Graphic designers who play around

This week, the class was asked to interpret, compare, and contrast the styles of two different graphic designers, Paula Scher and David Carson.

Paula Scher’s style is one of uncomplicated creativeness, where her claim to designing is simply just “to play” which she defines as “engaging in a childlike activity.”   She compared a great deal between being “solemn” and being “serious,” and as a refresher, I looked up the definition of both words to make sure I was understanding her interpretation.  Being solemn is defined as being more formal and dignified, while being serious is a state demanding careful consideration or application.  One of her key points that resonated was to utilize any passion you may have for a particular subject and to run with it.  The focus and desire which can stem from that passion may be the basis for creating serious play.  There is no hiding the fact that I care deeply about my dachshund Lenny, who my husband refers to as being completely and utterly useless.  Nontheless, Lenny is who I have decided to include periodically as a creative aspect into my blog, even though tying him in to a reflective post might be a little far fetched.


David Carson, on the other hand, has a very comprehensive style that I often found a little difficult to interpret because some of his examples were hard to read.  This is where I see a contradiction between Scher and Carson.  Carson made a statement where he said “not to mistake legibility for communication.”  His designs often felt chaotic, jumbled and illegible, while Scher displayed large font in the floors and walls of buildings.  However, both advocated for the audience to look past the obvious and to discover the message and emotion behind the material.

Graphic design by David Carson
Pave Environmental Graphics Paula Scher Inspiration Grid Paula Scher Environmental Graphics
Graphic design by Paula Scher


Both designers seemed to have a love for an experimental use of typography and pushed the envelop in creating innovative design.  One of the tutorials in that I throughly enjoyed was to “chose the right font” because it helped with the design principle of proximity, in which I needed clarification.  Proximity is where design elements can be visually connected in some way, either by font size or placement.

Even though I visually enjoyed the designs created by Paula Scher, I resonated the most with David Carson.  I liked how he encouraged the use of putting yourself into the work.  Carson discussed the importance of people – he felt that design work needed to be personal and subjective to be of any interest and value.  I wholeheartedly agree with his statement that a person’s unique background, upbringing, culture, and life experiences are what diversify design and create greatness.


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