Mark Blackwell

Design Friday, Ray Gun Magazine.

It seems hard to believe that it was a little less than a decade ago that Ray Gun Magazine burst onto the scene with its edgy look and break through game changing design aesthetic.

The first issue was published in 1992 by Marvin Scott Jarrett, and lead by visionary founder and art director David Carson. Ray Gun’s look became such an influential source on the design community that it still impacts the industry today. The magazine pushed the limits of visual design, typography and layout breaking down all the rules and re-assembling them. The result was a chaotic, abstract style that at times was impossible to read, but had a distinct look and a lasting impression. Carson’s influence over the magazine continued even after his departure in 1995. The magazine never wavered from its edgy approach to design even under the art direction of such notable art directors as Robert Hales, Chris Ashworth, Scott Denton-Cardew, and Jerome Curchod.

The magazine was also noteworthy because of the content that it chose to publish along with the break through design. Ray Gun always went with the cutting edge in advertising, pop-culture, and music always landing squarely on the cutting edge, and ahead of the curve. If you look at the magazine covers and the related dates, you’ll notice that Ray Gun was able to spotlight a multitude of artist long before its more established competitors in the publishing field. Those choices were made thanks in part to executive editor Randy Bookasta and his great editorial staff including over the eight year run, Dean Kuipers, Nina Malkin, Mark Blackwell, Joe Donnelly, Jeff Castelaz, Grant Alden, Mark Woodlief, & Eric Gladstone.

During the 1990’s Ray Gun printed 70 issues of the magazine. Ray Gun’s owner and founder, Marvin Scott Jarrett went on to publish Bikini and Stick but neither had the impact Ray Gun had. Today Jarret is the editor in chief for New York based fashion magazine Nylon. One thing that has to be pointed out is that all of the publications Jarret has worked on, from Creem to Nylon, have always had a passion for cutting edge graphic design. Jarret’s influence can be felt through all of them.