Mar 27, 2014

The New Republic: A Thought Leader of Cover Design

The New Republic recently marked the one year anniversary of its redesign, which debuted in January 2013. Creative director Dirk Barnett joined the magazine in August 2012 after a strong run at the Tina Brown-edited version of Newsweek. With the news that The New Republic gathered five medal nominations in this year’s Society of Publication Designers competition, including one for best redesigned magazine, it’s a good time to take a look at a collection of their cover designs. (News flash! magCulture reports that The New Republic was just nominated for a “pencil” award for redesign from the UK’s D&AD awards.)

The New Republic is produced in a dual set of offices, in New York City and D.C.. Barnett and the visual team work in NYC, along with the business staff and some editors, while the bulk of the editors (including the editor-in-chief) and the staff writers are based in D.C.. Although for many years it was published as a weekly, The New Republic is now a bi-weekly. Its covers have benefited greatly from the improved paper stock and production printing values that came along with the redesign.

The magazine is a hybrid between a newsweekly and a monthly opinion magazine like The Atlantic or Harper’s. Most importantly, it sees itself as a thought leader, driving political and cultural conversations. Like the editorial content, the covers of The New Republic are thought leaders of design, creating a graphic conversation and working to forge a smart new vision of how a thinking magazine should present itself to the public. The covers are by turns provocative, smart, hard-newsy, and fun (my only beef is that I wish that the fun part appeared with a little more frequency!). The joy of watching The New Republic‘s covers is that they’re aggressively different and surprising from issue to issue, with an always-changing mix of powerful illustration, photography, typography, and cutting-edge graphics. They push the design envelope without breaking it, and there’s a strong sense of connection and visual conversation with the audience.

Here are 10 favorite covers of The New Republic from the past year.

The New Republic visual team:
Creative director: Dirk Barnett
Art director: Erick Fletes
Designers: Ben Avny, Annie Jen
Photo editor: Maia Booker
Production director: Trina Robinson
Editor-in-chief: Frank Foer

(Above): December 30, 2013. Collage: Lola Dupre.


March 25, 2013. Illustration: Noma Bar.


July 15, 2013. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.


November 25, 2013. Photo illustration: Jacqueline Mellow.


February 25, 2013.


Illustration: Rodrigo Corral Studio.


March 3, 2014. Photograph: Brooks Kraft.


September 16, 2013. Photograph: Erin Patrice O’Brien.


March 11, 2013. Typography: Sean Freeman.


July 1, 2013. Photograph: Platon.