ALWAYS A FIRST: Condé Nast’s digital magazine design director Wyatt Mitchell has been tapped to become The New Yorker’s first-ever creative director. Mitchell, who has been the number two to Condé Nast’s design guru Scott Dadich for the last five years, will join The New Yorker’s staff by the end of the year.
New Yorker deputy editor Pam McCarthy told WWD that since The New Yorker is producing so much — a magazine, a Web site, an iPad edition, other tablet editions, e-books, hard books, cards, calendars, and so on — there has been a need for someone to come in and give the title a coherent, consistent look. Mitchell will oversee just about everything The New Yorker does designwise, with the exception of magazine covers and cartoons — that will remain under editor David Remnick’s purview.
And why did the magazine decide now was the time for a creative director?
“There was a time when The New Yorker didn’t have an art director at all,” said McCarthy. “The need grew — we added photography, for one thing — and we hired an art director. Now so many new needs have exploded in so many different directions over the last 18 months that we needed something more. Wyatt’s command of digital technology, like his command of print, is so strong and is sure.”
Mitchell said that it is “a little nerve-wracking to have your hands on the wheel of such a legendary title and I want to be very careful about not upsetting that great readership.”
“It’s my hope to help that evolution along — maybe speed it up a little bit,” Mitchell said of the design of the magazine. “There are aspects of it that need some refreshing and I’m hoping to do that very carefully and very thoughtfully. But there are areas particularly in photography and illustration and certain design areas that seem open and ripe for some refreshing. Nothing dramatic. I’m seeing this job as more about creating a look for the entire brand that is recognizable whether you see it on the Web site, in print, on a phone, on an iPad, or if you’re going to The New Yorker Festival or buying one of the phone apps.”
Before coming to Manhattan earlier this year, Mitchell was the design director of Wired, having served as the right-hand man for Wired’s then-creative director Dadich. When Dadich was promoted to executive director of Condé Nast’s digital magazine development office — i.e. iPad and tablet design — Mitchell was brought to New York to become that department’s design director.
“I love that dude,” said Dadich, of Mitchell. “He has been really truly a creative partner with me for the last five years.”
Dadich said he will name a successor for Mitchell soon.