David Carson was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1954; his father, a test pilot, worked on NASA’s early lunar landing program. But David preferred surfing to the skies, so he made his way to Southern California, where he studied at Fullerton College and San Diego State University, earning top marks and a sociology degree. It gave him a keen understanding of how individuals communicate with society and sharpened his research and critical evaluation skills.
After finishing his bachelor’s degree, David taught sociology at Torrey Pines High School near Del Mar, California. He immersed himself in the regional culture—at one point, he reached the top level of the state’s pro surfing circuit—and didn’t take a graphic design course until the age of 26, when he spotted a listing for a two-week class at the University of Arizona, taught by artist and designer Jackson Boelts. The work struck a chord; David enrolled at a small art school in Oregon and, the following summer, signed up for a three-week workshop in Switzerland.