World's most influential (and imitated) designer's take on "miserable, absurd, asshole localism."
David Carson is the world’s most imitated graphic designer, at least among magazines that do “hip” and “edge” and who like to break every typographic rule there is while straight-jacketing themselves to another set of strictures.
Last week, the prestigious Harvard Graduate School of Design asked him to create the publicity and posters for the next school year. Apple called him one of the 30 most Influential Mac users ever. London Creative Review magazine named him the most famous graphic designer on the planet. There’s more, too, but instead of me paraphrasing his website how about you dive in here. (Click!)
A while back, David designed this cover for the Australian surf-skate-lifestyle manual, Monster Children. For reasons never revealed, it didn’t run and was replaced, instead, by a photo of Alex Knost.
BeachGrit: I love this almost-Monster Children cover of Lunada Bay.
Carson: Me too.
BeachGrit: Why did you design a cover with Lunada Bay? I mean, what a provocateur!
Carson: Some friends of mine, mellow, good non-snake surfers, had had their car windows broken, lights smashed out, tires slashed and everything in the car stolen. And a hammer taken to the outside of the car. They also had rocks thrown at them all the way down and up the long trail down the cliff to the break at Lunada Bay.
I’ve heard worse stories, a few ended up in ugly court battles.
So I thought it would be nice to have a cover of “their spot” or “their ocean” on the cover of a global magazine, complete with name and location description. Plus it was just a really great image. And I liked the way the whole cover came out. Maybe the monster-ish children running the mag didn’t like that I changed their name around . I dunno. They never told me why they didn’t run it.
BeachGrit: Tell me about your relationship with Lunada Bay?
Carson: I attended Lunada Bay elementary school then left to Cocoa Beach in Florida for a few years with my family as my dad was in charge of the first unmmanned spacecraft to land on the moon. Once that mission was accomplished, we returned to Palos Verdes where I completed my last two years of high school.
I had a friend, Jeff Kruthers, who introduced me to Lunada Bay. He and his brother Allan and their mom lived and grew up there. Jeff was one of the first to really surf the place well.
Jeff later moved to Santa Barbara and managed the Chart House restaurant before getting into real estate, mostly in the Ranch where he continues to live and surf. He once offered me a small section in the Ranch for 5000 dollars. Before he did, he asked me, if the swell was pumping would I be able to drive into the Ranch and NOT bring a bunch, or any, friends with me? If yes, I could buy. Alas, I got busy and never quite got around to purchasing it. Ouch. Ouch. Right up there with selling my house in Point Dume, complete with key to gate around private surf point!
Anyway, I surfed Lunada Bay while in high school. My most memorable day was the first time I ever surfed it. I was newly arrived form Florida and had only been surfing a couple years. It was a Sunday afternoon, me and a buddy. My friend lost his board into the rocks and I surfed the entire afternoon alone, in the biggest waves I’d ever surfed or seen. Pre-leash. This photo my friend Guy Knight night took after he lost his board. He’s standing on the point. Something you would literally be stoned to death for if you tried today.
Even a couple years later when I was invited to compete in the Smirnoff Pro am at Sunset Beach, the waves were not as big as I’d gotten at Lunada. It’s an amazingly beautiful area: huge cliffs to the water. And even more amazing is that it’s only about 40 minutes to downtown Los Angeles or 40 minutes to Orange County. Because it’s a ways off the 405 freeway, a lot of surfers STILL don’t know it actually exists, as they go flying by, well crawling by actually, first gear in the fast lane bumper to bumper up to Malibu or down to Trestles…..
BeachGrit: What sorta wave is it? Is it that good?
Carson: It’s the best big wave in Southern California, easily. A right point, only breaks when a huge north winter swell is running. Lots of kelp outside keeps it smooth. An amazing set up and wave, spectacular setting.
BeachGrit: What sorta run ins have you had?
I’ve seen or heard about more than I’ve personally had: rocks, demolished cars, stolen everything, fights, court cases, it’s ugly. Grown, outta-shape, men acting like three year olds. No, actually three years olds act better. My wave, my beach, my ocean! Most are, at best, very average surfers who would not stand out anywhere they surfed. And guys that can barely surf with their too-long guns with torn black wetsuits will spend their entire session taking off in front of non-belongers, forcing them into the rocks and urchins. Fun way to spend your session, hey?
The wave, the set-up, it’s travel magazine stuff. Beautiful and beyond pricey real-estate. A lot of trust-fund babies with babies of their own. I stayed awhile in a house just up from the Bay that was famous because the lawyer who defended Sirhan Sirhan owned the house. Sirhan shot and killed Robert Kennedy minutes after he had won the state of California’s presidential primary, but that’s a different article.
BeachGrit: What’s the wildest stuff, specifically, you’ve seen?
Carson: Lots of ugly, dumb shit. Localism taken to the absurd extreme. The only way you can kinda rationalize it is well, thats them, they are just as big a kook, asshole and jerk wether they are driving, standing in a check-out line, ordering fast food, on dates, at parties, at their kids sporting event or attempting to surf. Always miserable, always jerks. Always assholes.
BeachGrit: The surf media, like me and my ilk, don’t touch it. Why’s that, y’think?
Carson: It has been said that localism works. If it does, and if you take some kind of comfort in that, well Lunada Bay could be the poster child. Threats to photographers, mags and all others have been effective. It’s ghetto warfare there, somehow these losers found the wrong sport.
The irony is, of course, they’re rich enough to travel to all the exotic places and ruin someones else’s local break during California’s summer months when not a single ridable wave happens.