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Learn Graphic Design: David Carson MasterClass Review

If you want to improve your graphic design skills, David Carson’s MasterClass might be exactly what you need. Read our honest review of the course to learn more.

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David Carson Teaches Graphic Design MasterClass: Our Verdict (2024)


4.5 / 5

David Carson’s MasterClass focuses on the essential principles and aspects of graphic design, including typography, color, use of photography, and logo design. The famous designer explains his intuitive approach to design and shares valuable tips that can help your design convey the right message. David’s class is informal and easy to follow, which makes it ideal for beginners.


  • Accessible
  • Interesting ideas
  • Engaging teaching style
  • Assignments


  • Not very technical
  • Highly subjective

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If everybody likes your work, you’re playing it much too safe.

Graphic design is all around us – from the adverts you see online to the packaging of the food you buy.

The role of a graphic designer is not an easy one, especially these days when everything is saturated with content, visuals, and information.

As a creative, I’m curious about what’s behind that process. How do designers communicate ideas through images, and how do you grab someone’s attention?

David Carson’s Graphic Design MasterClass seemed like it might have all the answers, so I decided to take it despite my lack of experience.

In this MasterClass review, I’ll tell you everything you should know about David’s lessons and give you my honest opinion.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What is the David Carson MasterClass?

David Carson Teaches Graphic Design” is an online course offered by MasterClass, one of the most popular online learning platforms.

David Carson’s experience and knowledge of the topic are undeniable. His unconventional style and approach to design made a huge impact on the field in the 1990s, and he had a chance to collaborate with companies like Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., and Armani.

He also received the AIGA medal in 2014, and his work and vision influenced many young designers around the world.

In his MasterClass, David talks about his journey and life as a graphic designer. He also teaches the fundamentals of graphic design, including how to design a logo, send a message with typography, and work with clients.

The course contains 13 video lessons with a total duration of 2 hours and 7 minutes.

David Carson in his studio

Who is David Carson?

David Carson is one of America’s most prominent graphic designers. He is known for his experimental style and bold approach to graphic design, which significantly changed visual communication in the 1990s.

Carson started his career in his late twenties after being a successful competitive surfer. He learned his craft as a part-time designer for the magazine Transworld Skateboarding and went on to work with magazines such as Ray Gun.

Thanks to his radical design vision, Carson began to be hired by companies like Nike and Levi Strauss & Co. So, in 1995, he established his own design firm. The David Carson Design quickly became successful, collaborating with some of the world’s biggest brands and companies.

Who is David Carson’s MasterClass for?

Essentially, David Carson’s MasterClass is well-suited for anyone interested in graphic design.

Since it provides practical tips, assignments, and insights, it’s also great for students and those who want to acquire graphic design skills on their own.

Finally, since the course offers a look at David Carson’s individual approach and creative process, it’s suitable for anyone who admires his work.

Therefore, although it’s geared toward beginners, some parts of Carson’s class would be beneficial to more experienced designers as well.

What does David Carson's MasterClass cover?

In short, David Carson’s class covers the fundamentals of graphic design.

But it’s important to point out that a big portion of this course is highly subjective. David has a rather unique approach to design, and while he does talk about some general principles, many of his lessons are focused on his own work and process.

In terms of format and content delivery, the course combines one-on-one lessons and group sessions with assignments.

Here is what you can expect from each lesson:

  • Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where David introduces himself and the course.
  • Lesson 2 is focused on David’s intuitive approach to design.
  • Lesson 3 deals with typography and effective ways you can use font, spacing, color, and other layout elements to send the message you want.
  • Lesson 4 contains David’s tips on how to approach photography in design. He explains how his approach to photography was forged at Transworld Skateboarding magazine.
  • Lesson 5 features a session David held with a small group of designers. They discuss the first assignment: to use only the letters of your first name and black and white to communicate your personality.
  • Lesson 6 contains David’s opinion of what makes some of his logo designs successful.
  • Lesson 7 is the chapter where David talks about his life as a designer and offers advice for anyone who wants to get into the business.
  • Lesson 8 is a group session where David reviews the assignment of using color and creating a design that reflects how your week is going.
  • Lesson 9 is focused on collage art.
  • Lessons 10-11 delve deeper into David’s experiences of working with clients and designing impactful magazines.
  • Lesson 12 is the review of the last assignment: breaking free of any constraints to show what kind of future you imagine for yourself.
  • Lesson 13 is the final lesson in which David offers his final advice to young designers.

My favorite parts of David Carson’s MasterClass

One thing is for sure – you don’t have to be an experienced designer to take David’s MasterClass.

The lessons are not advanced, which will be a drawback for some learners, but for me, that was a relief.

Also, there is something interesting to remember in each lesson, but here are some of the chapters that stood out.

An intuitive approach to design

David Carson speaking in his MasterClass
David Carson discussing his intuitive approach to design

According to David, if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to learn how to break the rules. And in order to do that, you need to trust your instincts.

Part of his approach is also noticing things around him and using his environment to find ideas and inspiration.

Developing a logo

David Carson running through a design example
David working on a logo in his program

Developing a logo is one of the essential skills you need to acquire to become a professional graphic designer.

In this insightful chapter, David shows how to develop a logo, make it recognizable, and give clients a lot of options.

The lesson isn’t too technical, but it provides useful tips and a cool ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at David’s creative process.

Tap into the power of color: Assignment 2

David Carson discussing a design with students
David reviewing the assignment with a small group of designers

I had a lot of fun during the group discussions, especially this one.

For this assignment, designers had to use color to create a design that reflects how their week is going. It was interesting to hear their observations and see how color and its arrangement can express emotions and ideas.

How much does the MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so it’s not possible to purchase courses individually. If you want to take this MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.

The standard annual plan has been renamed "Plus" and is available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually), and now provides access to all MasterClass courses on two devices instead of one. The Premium plan, providing access for up to six devices costs $240 per year.

A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 200+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.

Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Note that the "Standard" membership, priced at $72 per year, only gives you access to their short-form learning content – none of their full MasterClasses are included.

What I liked about David Carson’s MasterClass

Even though I’m not a graphic designer, I found David’s class very enjoyable.

As a creative, it was fun for me to see how he communicates through images and how he comes up with certain ideas and solutions.

Now, here are some of the reasons why I believe aspiring designers and fellow creatives should check out David’s class.


First of all, David’s lessons are informal and very easy to follow. He speaks in a friendly and understandable manner, providing examples and stories from his career to prove his point.

The course is suitable for beginners and seasoned designers alike, but it’s also good for other creatives and casual learners who don’t have any previous knowledge.

Interesting ideas

David’s style was considered radical in the 90s, and he gives you a dash of his experimental thinking and strong personality right at the beginning of the course by saying: “If everybody loves your work, you’re playing it much too safe.”

David’s intuitive approach to design might not appeal to everyone, but it certainly provides some interesting ideas and inspiration to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself in a new direction.

Engaging teaching style

One of the reasons I enjoyed this course is David’s engaging teaching style.

He is obviously very passionate about his work, and he is good at communicating his ideas, so I felt focused and included despite my lack of experience in graphic design.


I particularly liked the chapters where David reviewed the results of the assignments he gave to a group of designers. These lessons were very immersive, and they provided a chance to hear some different viewpoints as well.

Drawbacks of David Carson’s MasterClass

Although I’m sure David’s course offers useful information for aspiring designers, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Not very technical

One thing that might be a downside for some learners is a lack of technical information and concrete, practical tips regarding software use. David talked a lot about his concepts, ideas, and layout decisions, he also demonstrated how he works in his design program, but he didn’t really go deeper into it.

Also, there’s no class guidebook that comes with his course, so you can’t get that kind of information there either.

Therefore, if you want to gain an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of graphic design, including terminology and the technical side of it, you should definitely look for an additional learning source.

After all, you’ve got to learn the rules to break them.

Highly subjective

Another thing I was also aware of while taking David’s course is how subjective some of his conclusions and guidelines really were.

MasterClass courses are always somewhat subjective, given that every expert (especially in art and design) has their own approach. However, since most of David’s lessons were based on case studies and his experiences, I got the impression that this specific MasterClass is especially subjective.

Review conclusion: Is David Carson’s MasterClass worth it?

If you want to discover what it really takes to become a successful designer, David Carson’s MasterClass offers a great foundation on which to build.

Many would agree that David Carson’s approach and style revolutionized the graphic designing scene in the ‘90s. This MasterClass offers a look at the thought process behind some of his rule-breaking ideas, containing useful tips, discussions, and case studies.

The course is not very technical and theoretical, though, and it’s far from being a detailed tutorial that will help you design your first logo. However, you can always find additional learning sources to master the technicalities. This class, on the other hand, offers a rare opportunity to get honest advice from a well-known expert.

All in all, while David’s MasterClass does have its flaws, I would sincerely recommend it to anyone interested in the world of graphic design.