The Winter Olympics Issue

The Winter Olympics Issue

by The New York Times Magazine

Every special issue of the NYTmag is opportunity for rejoicing – especially for lovers of beautiful type and editorial design. Art Director of the magazine Matt Willey has very kindly shared with us some spreads for the new Winter Olympics themed issue, out this weekend. The typeface is a collaboration between Matt & long-time collaborator Henrik Kubel – we quizzed Matt about this, and more.

Vertical or stacking type is notoriously hard to get right, high contrast arguably makes it even more complex – so its a brave decision to use it for a whole issue! What inspired it/you in this case?
It really came about because of a lack of space. The issue covers all 15 winter olympic sports, from Alpine skiing to speed skating. It’s a lot to fit in, there’s not a huge amount of room to play with. Many of the pages had to accommodate the headline (the name of the sport), the deck, an image and the body text. It wasn’t possible to have traditional openers for many of the pieces. The wide stacked type was a way of giving some scale and typographic presence to those headlines when they ran in the thin columns around all that stuff.

Did you try any other treatments for this issue? Any other changes made to the structure throughout?
This was the first idea I had. I changed the template on the feature well pages and made all the outer margins smaller, partly (mainly) because I really liked the way it looks but it also allowed us to get more text on the pages.

You’re well known for producing bespoke type for special issues of the mag, this time calling on your friend and collaborator Henrik Kubel – how long did this issue take to put together?
I worked on it, on and off, for about two and half weeks. A lot of that was just mapping the issue out, blocking out stories, trying to make everything fit. It’s like a puzzle. We had this great mix – I think – of photographically-led pieces and other more literary pieces. Trying to figure out how the pacing of the issue would work took some time. I had a pretty set idea of what I wanted to try and do with the type; a very wide stacking typeface where each character was the exact same width, and I drew a few characters to see how (if!) it might work. My letters were pretty ropey, I was very glad (relieved!) when Henrik agreed to help. He took my crude start and, somehow, made something brilliant out of it.

I noticed the masthead has expanded – temporary or permanent change?
I just did it for that issue. I quite like making the logo bigger! Going wide with everything.


Cover: Photo illustration by Idris Khan

34-35: Photo illustration by Idris Khan

36-37: Photo illustration by Idris Khan

38: Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi, 39: Photograph by Finlay Mackay

40-41: Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi

42-43: Photograph by Giles Price

44-45:  Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi

46-47: X-Ray by Nick Veasey

48-49:  X-Ray by Nick Veasey

50-51:  Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi

52-53: Photograph by Dina Litovsky

54-55: Photographs by Dina Litovsky

56-57: Photograph by Jeff Minton

60-61: Photograph by Holly Andres

62-63: Photograph by Calle Huth

64-65: Illustrations by Tatsuro Kiuchi

66-67: Photograph by Benjamin Lowy

68-69: Photograph by Benjamin Lowy

Editor in Chief: Jake Silverstein
Design Director: Gail Bichler
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Art Director: Matt Willey
Deputy Art Director: Ben Grandgenett
Designers: Claudia RubÍn, Rachel Willey, Michael Houtz
Contributing Photo Editor: Kristen Geisler
Associate Photo Editors: Stacey Baker, Amy Kellner, Christine Walsh
Photo Assistant: Pia Peterson

Luke Tonge