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If you’ve ever Googled the question “how to be a good graphic designer,” chances are you were bombarded with a series of responses. You’d probably be told to study design theory, have a good understanding of typography, and to know the software you’re using like the back of your hand.
While these are all valid points, it can be easy to pay close attention to the technical aspects of graphic design and forget to have fun with it.
When designing for a school project or a client, you must take every detail of the brief into account while also trying to stay true to your aesthetic and design sensibilities. You may want to trust your intuition but cannot.
Here is where David Carson’s Graphic Design MasterClass comes in.
This David Carson MasterClass review explains how this course introduces you to some of his most important guiding principles, big-picture advice for working designers, and how to work with different kinds of clients.
Who is David Carson?
David Carson is a prominent contemporary graphic designer and art director with an unconventional and experimental visual style. When he was the art director of the magazine Ray Gun, he introduced innovative typographies and distinctive layouts. He revolutionized the graphic designing scene in America in the 1990s, and he is even claimed to be the godfather of ‘grunge typography’ which was perpetually used in his magazine issues.
Carson’s work is characterized by chaotic typography and the pattern it embodies that carries a larger meaning than what the viewer sees initially. As Albert Watson once stated, the disorganized use of his typography has its own purpose such as each stroke of a painter’s brush evoke different emotion, imagery, and idea, so does Carson’s designs possess such attributes.
My Review of David Carson’s MasterClass
An important thing to remember about all the classes on the MasterClass website is that the experts teaching them are not spoon-feeding learners like you. They refrain from providing you with specific ways to go about topics such as graphic design or short story writing. Instead, they are teaching you by sharing examples of their work and anecdotes from their careers, with helpful tips and assignments that you can apply to your work.
David Carson’s MasterClass is a wonderful example of this teaching style.
From the first video which introduces you to Carson to the last class dealing with thinking about your future in professional design, Carson wastes no time sharing numerous examples of his work, and the process behind creating each piece of art.
While his unconventional style of design may be unappealing to some graphic designers, the lessons that come with his style can be applied to artists of all kinds.
For instance, the very first class encourages designers like you to trust your intuition when working and push yourself to take many risks. He also encourages you to develop a mentality that keeps you in tune with unpredictable situations that can make your work a lot better.
Carson’s passion for graphic design comes through in every class, making this series a joy to learn from. He doesn’t talk to you as though you are a child learning to draw for the first time, but rather as an adult with a keen interest in design. He speaks clearly and confidently and communicates the ideas behind a particular design very well.
This MasterClass series is also broken up into three assignments, namely, Put Yourself Into Your Work, Tap Into the Power of Color, and Designing Your Future. If you plan on finishing this class in a single sitting, these assignments break Carson’s steady stream of information while also giving you a practical look at how design can be applied.
Carson’s MasterClass lessons walk the fine line between staying true to yourself while maintaining a level of professionalism that helps you get the job done smoothly.
It is a short, succinct, and informative series on graphic design and the ways in which you can alter your style to try something new.
Overall, this short course can be finished over the course of a few days or even in a single sitting if you’re very motivated.
Takeaways from David Carson’s MasterClass
“If it feels like anybody could have just typed it in, then you really don’t need designers. Did you look at the space between the letters? If it should be in Caps? If you should find something tall or condensed? Make those decisions, don’t get lazy. If it’s readable, it’s okay, but you won’t have the most fun doing it or do your best work. Look at the obvious, basic categories of fonts, bold, thick, serif, sans serif, italic, non-italic, caps, lowercase – to see if something strikes you as feeling right for the message and works with the other information on the page, like a photograph or graphs.”
I would argue that this quote sums up a good chunk of what this MasterClass aims to teach.
Carson does many things: he encourages you to stay true to your intuition, but also to have fun with the work that you are doing.
He encourages you to take risks and try new things with designing, such as cropping photographs more than you would ordinarily, or add typography that’s askew to a page, making it almost impossible to read.
Throughout all of these lessons, the most important piece of advice he shares is to challenge yourself, no matter how strange you may feel about doing so.
Features of David Carson’s MasterClass
- Exclusive content and an in-depth view on graphic design and breaking the mold
- There are over 2 hours of video footage
- The footage is broken down into 13 lessons, including an introduction and Carson’s final thoughts
- The MasterClass comes with a downloadable Class Workbook filled with all of the Class Resources including the lessons, tips, and tricks shared in the course
- There is a Discuss with Members section at the end of the course, allowing students to interact with each other and share their insights with a community of learners
A Breakdown of the Lessons Included in the MasterClass
- Meet your instructor: David Carson
- An intuitive approach to design
- Send a message with typography
- Using photography in design
- Assignment 1: Put yourself into your work
- Developing a logo
- Life as a working designer
- Assignment 2: Tap into the power of color
- Collage art for designers
- Working with clients
- Designing impactful magazines
- Assignment 3: Designing your future
- Make it happen
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online learning platform with classes taught by various experts in different fields. Some of the instructors include Serena Williams, Neil Gaiman, Steph Curry, Issa Rae, and Salman Rushdie.
It is different from platforms like Udemy or Skillshare because all of the instructors on the platform are famous and well renowned in their fields.
How Much Does MasterClass Cost?
A MasterClass annual membership pass costs $180 a year.
Who is MasterClass for?
MasterClass is for anyone interested in learning at their own pace. Writers, photography enthusiasts, chefs, artists, musicians, painters, and creative professionals will love this website, because of the various industry professionals sharing their knowledge and skills with the world in a short amount of time.
How does MasterClass Work?
At the top of your screen, there is a list of options to choose from namely ‘Discover’, ‘My Progress’, and ‘Library’. If you are new to the website, clicking on the library option is your best bet. There’s a long list of instructors and categories to choose from. Once you’ve selected a class, you can begin learning at your own pace.
A MasterClass contains any number of videos from 13-27 per course. The videos are typically between five to thirty minutes long. The instructors speak directly to the camera, and occasionally bring in students of their own to demonstrate an assignment or their students’ efforts in a class the instructor teaches. Some classes include extracts from the instructor’s own work.
MasterClass also has a mobile app, allowing you to access class when you’re on the go.
Every class comes with a downloadable PDF filled with class resources, reading materials, and even downloadable worksheets.
The MasterClass Community
MasterClass has a separate community section where you can interact with other students, from sharing five facts about yourself to doing a writing challenge with a group of people. You can also network with other students in the Community section, participate in contests, and get feedback on work that you share.
After you have completed David Carson’s course, you can exchange ideas and notes with other students in this section, and even build on an existing professional network!
Our Final Verdict
David Carson’s MasterClass is full of insightful advice and experience that can be very helpful for both beginners and experienced designers. The video lessons cover everything from using typography to send a message to working and collaborating with clients.
Additionally, the video quality of each lesson is impeccable. David Carson’s style of teaching keeps you engaged and also leaves you wanting to learn more.
All in all, we would definitely recommend this MasterClass.