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Interview with David King, Eye 48, Summer 2003
'For the past three decades David King has moved deftly between roles as designer, photographer, editor, researcher and author. His graphic style – an easily recognisable mix of explosive sans serif typography, solid planes of vivid colour and emphatic rules – reworked for the New Left in Britain the graphic language of the Russian Constructivists.'

'When you came across Constructivism, did it feel familiar rather than new?'
DK: 'Oh, certainly. But it's not just a question of style. If you're working on the Left, then you run up against all the same problems: where's the paper coming from? Who's going to print it? You can have whatever ink you want, so long as it's black or red. The Leftist stuff was governed entirely by lack of money, materials and time. And that had been the same in Russia.'
'But a two-colour limitation on a job does not necessarily incur ...'
'... that it has to be an enormous piece of woodletter [laughs]. No, you're right.'
'So what made you design in that way?'
'You have to make decisions in your life quickly about what you don't want to do [...] I didn't want to do leaflets and letterheads. The vernacular stuff that was being done, like billboards, boxing posters and newspaper ads, was frowned upon because it wasn't Swiss design. But I thought, "Actually, although they're rough and badly carried out, the attitude's quite good."'
'Because the aesthetic is so forthright?'
'Well, you get the ideas across quickly when the type's three feet high! A lot of the tutors were very much anti-art in those days. They didn't see the point in art, and I did.'
'But it was never a conscious decision to make your work look 'Russian'?'
'Never. I hate things that look Russian when they're not – it's just silly. I always thought design should be low-key.'
'Yours isn't.'
'No; it's odd, isn't it? [laughs]'

 

 

 

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