Over at The Awl, Sharan Shetty posted a great essay about the "Rise and Fall of Grunge Typography." Shetty chose to start her story with pioneering designer David Carson, infamous in the early 1990s for making the text in Ray Gun magazine completely unreadable. For example, Carson once converted an entire article on Bryan Ferry into Zapf Dingbats (above). If you need more eyeball spanking from Carson, his seminal monograph "The End of Print" has just been republished in a lovely hardcover. From The Awl:
"The Rise And Fall Of Grunge Typography" (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)
The aesthetic was fueled by raw emotion, but Carson’s tactics were made imitable by technology. The rise of grunge typography coincided with the burgeoning popularity of the Macintosh, which, introduced in 1984, permanently altered the landscape of graphic design and typography. The art of designing by hand—a painful craft of precision and consistency—was no longer the only option. Designers were liberated; the screen and their imagination were the only constraints. In many ways, the modifier "grunge" denotes for typography what it does for music: unfettered, unrestrained, a cry against convention. The experimental typographer is almost always the young typographer, and young typographers in the 90s, armed with new software and ideas, rejected the rule-based fonts of their forebears.