How I Work: Oliver Munday

The Atlantic’s senior art director discusses discovering book design, how he brought a literary sensibility to redesigning one of America’s oldest magazines, and what the end of the Trump era means for political design more broadly

Founded in Washington in 1857, the Atlantic’s archive reads like a roll call of American history, with everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Virginia Woolf having contributed to the publication over the years. Taking on its literary and visual history would be a daunting prospect for any designer, but Oliver Munday has relished the opportunity to overhaul the magazine’s design, alongside his partner Peter Mendelsund.

Coinciding with the launch of its paywall in 2019, the redesign has helped to cement the Atlantic’s place in the country’s political discourse and boost its subscriber numbers by more than 325,000 over the past year. Here, we speak to Munday about establishing himself in the world of books, the ill-fated magazine project that set him up to take on the Atlantic gig, and what he’s learned from the Trump era about the role of design as a political tool.