decorative design about decoration

by Art Chantry (

Cool as meaningless decor….hated nest ( magazine). thought it was really really bad and ignorantly designed by an amateur . i couldn’t look at it without getting furious at how stupid it was. then everybody started talking about how great it was. that just pissed me off even more. terrible magazine. period. embarrassing. i think “kids these days” are spoonfed everything we used to have to make ourselves. it’s the old ‘i had to walk 100 miles in a blizzard to get to school’ argument. i mean, why be curious when everything is there at the push of mouse? no challenge outside of playing life like a video game. thank god for ‘occupy’. the learning curve has finally begun.

Heller:From the very first issue I was hooked. Not because the design was up to the professional standard of Fabien Baron and Fred Woodward, or the experimental chops of Rudy VanderLans and David Carson. Not because I was an avid fan of lifestyle or shelter magazines (I could take 'em or leave 'em and only in the dentist's office). Not because I am so awestruck by artistically bizarre popular culture that I buy any old zine. No, I became a loyal connoisseur (the words reader or viewer are too neutral) because this was the first magazine in a long time that did not slavishly conform to common publishing wisdom of any kind. Read More: image:

i hated nest. but, everybody else loves it. no crime. go ahead and love it. it’s just that i sure didn’t feel the same way about it as everybody else. it was a gimmicky piece of really bad graphic design.i have a real problem with massive shallow over-design. that’s the new normal nowadays. decoration without ideas.‎’nest’ was so stupid and shallow it makes ‘raygun’ look like einstein…i think david carson was brilliant, trendsetting, totally fucking awesome in ‘beach culture’ magazine. he turned graphic design on it’s head when he introduced ‘anti-design’ into the popular design lexicon. his thinking and his style killed off contemporary design from that point on. everything became a joke, a shallow gesture, mere decoration after him. but, in ‘raygun’ he was simply copycatting himself and making weak imitations of his older, more innovative thinking. david carson was an instinctive design genius in ‘beach culture’. in raygun, he was a tired parody of himself. that’s what i think.

Bernstein:Mr. Truman was also concerned about a magazine that so completely represented one man's vision. ''What happens if that person becomes exhausted or leaves or loses interest?'' he asked. The difficulties of sustaining a magazine without corporate backing are well known. Shoshana Berger, the editor of ReadyMade, a California-based magazine for young design-savvy readers, said: ''Nest was more of an art project than a sustainable business model. It's more about the pathologies of interior design than its perfect execution. It distinguished itself as a risk taker in a very whitewashed category.'' It would have been difficult, she said, ''for Nest to publish what amounted to a coffee table book every three months and not hemorrhage money.'' Read More: image:

…from what i’ve read about brodovitch, he would have had a stroke the moment he glanced at carson’s work. oh, and i personally think transworld skatboarding was still not yet fully realized. carson was still working his way toward what he eventually achieved. other skate mags (think ‘thrasher’) were too similar in thought to allow carson to really stand out enough. when he dropped his look into mainstream design, it blew the lid off. but, in the skate world, his look fit in with the culture and wasn’t very visible. remember, context is everything in design.

and don’t forget that carson was/is a ‘garbage head’ – a classic postmodernist appropriator. he was a big fan of many many other contemporary designers/illustrators/etc. he was a big fan of the rocket, for instance. he used to send me letters and even showed me his “art chantry’ layout where he thought he was trying to do ‘me’ (and not so well, either. it’s in an early issue of beach culture). so, his thinking is reactionary punk/polyglot approach to the problem at hand – how do you get noticed? it’s the kitchen sink design style – dump it in and whatever happens – happens. it was one of those choice moments when everything lined up in the cosmos and his work was dumped (by carson, who avidly entered everything he could into every design competition he could) into the mainstream design world like an atom bomb; imagine a punk surfer skate dude going to the opera and all the bored opera fans taking one look at him and following him out the door like the pied piper… it was a great moment, but sadly, only a moment. and many many others were there before him. but, the mainstream design culture never let them (us) in the door. carson kicked it open.

neville brody is a bit shallow, too. all style, no real substance. fashion as design. his very best work can’t really hold a candle to even this single GQ cover. i’ve always looked at brody as a late comer who simple copy-catted others like malcolm garret, genesis p. orridge, peter saville, terry jones, etc. etc. then he purified it down to a hard essence and started doing “just” typography. all his work is about neville brody, not about the subject is meaningless decor. narcissism as design is hopeless and pointless. that’s what killed david carson and peter max and now shepard fairy. it killed brody, too. it’s the curse of the hubris.

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