On 3 June 2023, the Now23 conference will take place in Paris. On that day, more than a dozen graphic lecturers, artistic directors and type designers are expected. Join to attend talks by international speakers around graphic design, web design, motion design, publishing, visual identity, communication and type design. If not already done, register now to take advantage of the best rates.
It seemed interesting to us to make you discover the profiles of our guests. Discover David Pearson‘s interview.
Biography David Pearson specialises in print-based design where typography is the principle form of expression. He has been commissioned by Wes Anderson, Christie’s, The New York Times, Penguin Books, Sir Ridley Scott and the V&A. David has been listed as one of Britain’s Top 50 Designers by the Guardian, is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and in 2015 he was appointed Royal Designer for Industry, the highest accolade for designers in the UK.
What is your favourite way to start a day?
David Pearson I sit at my home desk early and stay there until lunch. I then relocate to a shared office for the second half of the day. The aim is to get a few hours of unbroken focus under my belt before a more sociable afternoon. This way I get a lovely lunchtime commute – when the world seems to be turning much more gently – and then chew the fat with some very admirable people.
Have your work habits changed notably as a result of the pandemic?
David Pearson Not really, although I am now more inclined to do emergency gardening when my work gets rejected (I really got into gardening doing lockdown). It turns out that hitting things with a shovel really helps after someone has shattered your dreams.
“I’m forever hungry for new developments – or interesting unearthings – from the type world.”
– David Pearson
Do you read news?
David Pearson Of course, but I do occasionally withdraw from doing so. I need a break sometimes from the constant rabbit punch that is Brexit. What a fucking stupid decision that was.
Do you practice any sports?
David Pearson I play 5-a-side football as often as my knees allow me to. I also do gardening (as often as my knees allow me to).
What is the best way to work?
David Pearson It varies for me. Sometimes I can crack things on my own but other times I feel the need to collaborate (usually after admitting defeat). Different book covers require different voices and I can’t always find the right tone on my own. Hiring from a freelance perspective often means you’re handing away your own fee but this is offset by the broad range of talent I get to work with, which you can perhaps only access when you hire on an ad hoc basis (as opposed to relying on the same permanent staff).
How to jump out of comfort circle??
David Pearson It’s an interesting game of tug-of-war isn’t it? Trying to move your own version of visual culture forwards, and not retrace old steps, when in service to another person’s creative vision. This is what draws me to commercial publishing in particular: it’s a constant challenge. We can all do what we like when no one’s looking but I enjoy the close scrutiny; the push-and-pull of art versus commerce. It’s endlessly fascinating, if endlessly bruising, but I need to go through this gauntlet in order to like my work. I need to know it has cleared all the hurdles. A completely unchecked creative process is boring to me. I enjoy searching for the cracks and crevices that creativity can grow from.
Are you always on the lookout for new typefaces?
David Pearson Always. I’m forever hungry for new developments – or interesting unearthings – from the type world. I’m most often won over by interesting new presentations of existing styles. For example I loved Fraser Muggeridge’s type specimen for Commercial Classics (https://www.pleasedonotbend.co.uk/work/commercial-classics-specimen). Like much of Fraser’s work he took something familiar and then made it look like it had arrived from the future.
“Trying to move your own version of visual culture forwards, and not retrace old steps, when in service to another person’s creative vision. This is what draws me to commercial publishing in particular: it’s a constant challenge.”
– David Pearson
How did you decide to become a designer?
David Pearson I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who could only ever do one thing well – draw – and simply followed that path towards a salary-paying conclusion. Book design suits my inclination to work slowly and to pore over details. It also provides me with a problem to solve, which is something I need in order to feel useful.
Who were the most impact on you?
David Pearson None have had a greater impact on me than Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon who began as teachers, then became creative collaborators and ultimately good friends. All the while they have been mentors to me, providing many helpful work and life paths for me to follow.
Do you have words of wisdom for young practitioners?
David Pearson Don’t listen to me, would be my advice. Unless you are compiling a list of the least effective ways to make money.
What speaker wouldn’t you want to miss at Now23?
David Pearson I have been a long-time admirer of Fred Smeijers but the nicest aspect of being invited to events like this is discovering and learning from those you may not be so familiar with. I look forward to that, and to revisiting one of my favourite cities.
Thank you very much, David!
– Interview by Yi Shen
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