David Carson is an American graphic designer who is relatively famous in the graphic design industry for his work on Ray Gun magazine and for Quicksilver’s ad campaign. Although his work is featured all across the globe, a lot of music lovers would know that he was involved with the actual branding of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails and their 1999 album titled “The Fragile.”
My girlfriend purchased for me a memorabilia print of one of the poster artwork for The Fragile in March of 2014. Although it was a birthday gift that not many may appreciate or understand, it was a perfect gift for me because it was something that strongly changed who I was as a graphic designer. The essential minimalism and the strong sense of experimentation really captivated my attention, and rather made a bold decision to adopt this sense of style in the early days of my career. The artwork can be seen below:
Now it may not come to be a surprise that I am an avid fan of Nine Inch Nails. But although this may seem like a biased thing to say, the man behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, has had very attentive direction when it came to the actual design and artistic direction of every album that he has released. The most important thing to realize is, how do you brand music? Is it just about the band’s logo? How do you put image or artwork onto song lyrics?
Now Reznor did not need to approach every aspect of the art direction on his own. During the construction of the album “The Fragile”, he hired designer David Carson, to really take the impulse and the sonic adventure the album takes you and visualize it through its packaging design. Not only was the artwork within The Fragile just amazingly crafted, it was an inspiration to myself as to how much emotion visual art can really carry on without saying much.
Every single photography he used seems perfect, and every time I listen to a track from The Fragile, it never fails for me to visit the visual photography that followed suit. This to me is a successful execution of design, and how imagery can captivate attention without having long text of lyrical content on that page. There is no reason for you to correct me wrong however when I say there wasn’t long passage of lyrical text that came with the album, because it certainly did. Although the lyrical content had beautiful typographic treatment of its own (which also influenced me highly), it was the second thing to catch my eye.
The typography of The Fragile is indeed one of the important aspects of the actual design itself. The direction was edgy, sometimes clustered together that was hard to read, yet so effective in my point of view. I loved how not everything was easy to read and how the typographic treatment seemed like distant whispers that came out of Reznor’s mouth.
The artistic direction of The Fragile influenced me so much in the late 90’s that it still carries on the inspiration today. It is relatively easy to see that some of my past e-books done in the past carries on the influence through the use of single photography in various abstract layering with typographic treatment.
My name is Chris Takakura, I am an art director and visual designer servicing businesses and studios around the world. I specialize in print design, brand/identity, with a strong concentration in web design & front-end development. I am always looking to connect and be involved in creative projects, so if you are interested in my creative services, please contact me here.