Last week the Editorial Design Organisation played host to Arem Duplessis, design director of The New York Times Magazine and one of the most respected magazine designers working today. I went along to hear him talk through his body of work…
Duplessis is best known for his work at the NYT Magazine, which he covers regularly on the newspaper’s excellent 6th Floor Blog. But during this hour-long lecture he also found time to mention some of his early work, too.
For example, the following pages, spreads and covers are from Spin magazine, which Duplessis worked on from 2002-2004.
At a time when overseas magazines were hard to obtain in the UK, especially outside of London, Spin was a prized import which, along with Raygun, Emigré and a handful of other titles, were swapped eagerly among young design students hungry for new ideas.
Looking back now, I can see a distinct affinity with The Face, which also assimilated David Carson’s experimentalism within a tighter framework during this period. And here’s some more bold typography from GQ, where Duplessis worked briefly during 1999-2001.
It was while at Spin that he got the call from creative director Janet Froelich to join her at The New York Times and take over the design direction of its magazine. Froelich is, of course, a tough act to follow, but since Duplessis’ arrival the magazine has been consistently strong.
It’s the sheer range of subjects covered, he says, which makes the magazine the perfect fit for him. It means he can be working on a heavyweight news story one week and a comic photoshoot the next.
And it does look like a labour of love. Week in, week out, Duplessis and his team produce a magazine that is both playful and authoritative – a rare mix in the editorial design world.
For the recent redesign of the magazine, Duplessis enlisted the help of Studio8‘s Matt Willey, and together they looked back to the Times’ archives for inspiration.
A new font, NYTE Condensed, based on an old byline face from the paper, was commissioned from Dino dos Santos (used in the headlines, shown below, and in the Danny Meyer spread, top), and the result is a classic and powerful piece of editorial design with shades of Willy Fleckhaus’ seminal German title, Twen.
Duplessis ended his talk with a few words about the role of the editorial designer in different media. Most magazines and newspapers exist on multiple platforms now, and the New York Times has long been at the forefront of developing a strong presence on the web.
The magazine also regularly produces short films to promote special issues and Duplessis has used both web and film to document interesting cover shoots and instigate creative projects which compliment the issue content. One film by Karim Charlebois-Zariffa covers the shoot of the 10th Annual Year In Ideas issue, in which a workable QR code was built from a grid of balloons (watch it here).
And for another set of films, which you can view here, director Alex Prager and cinematographer Ross Richardson invited Hollywood A-listers to reinvent themselves as the villain of their choice. I particularly like Brad Pitt as Eraserhead.
Paul Pensom is the art director of Creative Review. More information about the EDO at editorialdesign.org.