Design director, Gail Bichler, on The New York Times Magazine typography exhibition

The New York Times Magazine is currently exhibiting an impeccable range of typographic highlights at the Type Directors Club, running until 5 September.

“It includes covers, spreads, and special issues that make use of our custom typefaces designed by Henrik Kubel of A2-TYPE,” Gail Bichler, design director of The New York Times Magazine, tells It’s Nice That. Featuring “typographic treatments and bespoke fonts made by the magazine’s design team and other collaborators,” the show aims to celebrate all of the outstanding work that’s been put into the magazine since its redesign in 2015.

“We looked for instances where both the design and imagery were standouts and where they worked together in meaningful or unique ways,” says Gail on how she curated the exhibition. “We also tried to show as much variety as possible in terms of topic and visual tone.”

Memorable spreads and covers from recent issues, alongside a 40-page specimen showcasing the bespoke typography, will demonstrate how much care and attention goes into the magazine’s design and art direction. Gail tells us exactly what makes a particular issue or piece of work stand out: “The special issues are often memorable because we have the opportunity to work with different fonts and flush out a new visual language across an entire issue.”

“For our 2016 New York Issue with a theme of ‘life above 800 feet’, we rotated the magazine 90 degrees. The magazine’s art director, Matt Willey, made custom typography to work within the vertical spaces that the new orientation created. For our 2017 Music Issue, we commissioned a poster weight of our sans serif font and combined that with illustrated custom lettering by illustrator Braulio Amado. Another favourite was the 2016 Lives Issue. We worked with an existing font by Kristina Bartosova and commissioned a number of special characters and ligatures to customize the face.”


Since its relaunch, the new format has flourished with “all new custom typefaces” and “lots of subtle tweaks to the look and the content.” The magazine is constantly evolving: “As we’ve gotten to know our fonts better and understand how they work we’ve made adjustments to how we use them and also to the fonts themselves,” says Gail.

The New York Times Magazine holds many exciting projects in the pipeline and will continue to cherish its growth. “Some of the most significant ways that we’ve grown are in mediums beyond the printed magazine. We’ve done some ambitious online presentations which use the visual language of our special issues and make use of sound, video and animation in interesting ways,” says Gail.

“We’ve been experimenting with alternate forms of storytelling, like virtual reality, and we have made short films ranging from documentary to collaborations with Hollywood directors and actors in that medium. We’ve even branched out to other print formats and are making special highly-designed, magazine-produced sections of the paper – like the special kids’ section last month and the annotated constitution. We have many more exciting things in the works.”