The Atlantic's Creative Director Talks Redesign

Darhil Crooks explains why he decided to change the logo and how he illustrates abstract ideas.

Redesigning a magazine is a bit like tandem sky-diving. Let me explain: There's a point where you look at each other, give a little head nod, and then you jump. There's no getting back in the plane. You try to form a perfect circle with the rest of your team while you quickly approach the earth. In this case, the deadline. You try to pull off as many tricks as possible before you pull the chute, while everyone around you screams "Pull it! Pull it NOW!!!" You land safely and look around again and everyone is still alive. As a graphic designer, you live for these moments.

I joined The Atlantic last August and have been making incremental changes over the past few months. But once we decided that it was time to jump in and do a full-fledged redesign I wanted to look at every aspect of the magazine, from the logo to the back page. We also wanted to make sure to maintain the ideals established by the magazine founders 156 years ago.

When I first talked to James Bennet about redesigning The Atlantic, he explicitly told me not to change the logo. I agreed that it is a beautifully drawn logo, one of the best magazine logos out there. Bringing back the 40's era nameplate—which the magazine did in 2008—was brilliant , but there is always room for improvement. So I changed the logo ... just a little. The "T" in "the" is capitalized and the angle of the "A" has been adjusted to match the rest of the letters (now that we no longer use the black bar along the left side). Subtle differences—but differences nonetheless.

In addition to the modified logo I wanted to bring back another element from The Atlantic's past. While looking through some back issues I noticed the Poseidon/Neptune colophon that had appeared occasionally in the magazine going back to the 1920s. So in the interests of both change and continuity, and of demonstrating that The Atlantic is constantly evolving while remaining rooted in its past, I commissioned a new Poseidon—one fit for the modern age.

All the magazine pages have been redesigned. I've introduced new fonts throughout. The multi-image Table of Contents is more representative of the variety of content inside the magazine. Guided by the editors, the new Dispatches section is now filled with even more stories and entry points for The Atlantic readers—a place to go for great ideas. We also introduced The Culture File, a new section for all of our columns and cultural criticism and lifestyle coverage—books coverage as well as writing on Film, Travel, Drinks, Art and more.

The magazine's center of gravity, of course, remains the feature well, where our long-form journalism—investigative reporting pieces, narratives, essays, and more—resides. Feature stories will have bolder openings, and we're placing a new emphasis on visual story-telling throughout each piece. At the back of the well, we'll run cultural essays—and we've got a fun new backpage called "One Big Question."

Being entrusted with the updating of an iconic brand like The Atlantic by its amazing editors has been a fantastic experience. I hope that, issue to issue, the magazine will be as much fun for you to read as it is for us to compose and design.

Darhil Crooks

Darhli Crooks is The Atlantic's creative director.

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