2012 New Visual Artist: Caleb Bennett

By Bronson Stamp

Cover design/art direction, The New York Times Magazine, 2011

Caleb Bennett is the kid from a small town in Texas who walked up to the design director of The New York Times Magazine, introduced himself, and got a call three days later about a job. He wasn’t looking to leave his position as associate art director at Texas Monthly, but of course he took the unexpected offer from Arem Duplessis. “I was in shock myself when he brought me on here, as a designer from Texas at 26,” Bennett says. “But also, I believe you have to go after what you want.” That straightforward attitude matches not just his signature cardigans but also his clean and inviting editorial sensibility.

Age: 28
Deputy Art Director, The New York Times Magazine
From: Del Rio, Texas
Lives in: Brooklyn, New York
@_calebbennett

Two years later, he is the magazine’s deputy art director, part of the four-member team responsible for its sweeping (and well-received) redesign. “The hope is to engage readers as immediately as possible by capturing a feeling, whether it’s subliminal or obvious,” Bennett says. “I always try to consider the reader’s point of view. I love to take risks and use design to challenge the reader to connect things.”

Art direction/design, The New York Times Magazine, 2011

Art direction/design, The New York Times Magazine, 2011

For a cover story on the disappearance of Air France Flight 447 over the Atlantic Ocean, he paired a disarmingly still seascape with a tiny white headline that floats above it. The cover evokes the essential mystery of the tragedy with graphic precision—and grabs the reader’s throat. Aimed at a similar spot is a spread on werewolves in popular culture. To give the visuals some teeth, he dropped two adjoining strokes in the W below the baseline. In clumsier hands, it could have been a groaner, but it’s pitch-perfect for the story.

Art direction/design, Texas Monthly, 2009

Art direction/design, Texas Monthly, 2010

Although Bennett easily holds forth on editorial design, there’s a topic that’s even closer to his heart: professional sports logos. “Most of them used to be so considered and iconic, and now they’re all blending together trying to outdo each other,” he says. (He should know: He spent many hours as a teenager drawing them over and over.) He sees a connection between sports teams—some of which have been returning to their golden-era designs—and print publications trying to adapt to the internet. “We have to remember how to expand upon identities and designs that have already proven successful,” Bennett says, “not forgetting the tradition and brand they have previously established.” It’s a debate he’ll likely be a part of for some time to come.

Art direction/design, The New York Times Magazine, 2011

Art direction/design, Texas Monthly, 2010

Icons designed for Wired magazine, with T.J. Tucker, 2009

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  1. Pingback: Saturday Highlights: First Edition – Caleb Bennett 2012 New Visual Artist « Designful Arts Blog

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