Magazine Spotlight – The Baffler

01 Baffler David McLimans

Cover Illustration by David McLimans

[This post is part of a series by this week’s Guest Editor Robert Newman. More info here.]

The Baffler is an arts and politics publication published three times a year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that describes itself as “the journal that blunts the cutting edge.” Published off and on since 1988, the current editorial team includes design and art director Patrick JB Flynn and editor John Summers.

Issue 24 of The Baffler is the sixth designed by Flynn, who was the longtime noted art director of The Progressive. In fact, many of the illustrators in this issue—Brad Holland, Melinda Beck, Henrik Drescher, David McLimans, and Jonathan Rosen, among others—were part of Flynn’s “stable” at The Progressive. The art is stunning, and is featured in numerous full-page designs. There is also a notable series of stand-alone full-page illustrations titled “Graphic Art.”

I have to confess that I’m a latecomer to The Baffler, just grabbing it recently at Book Culture on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in large part because of the stunning cover illustration by David McLimans. This is truly one of the outstanding venues for editorial illustration, in large part because Flynn’s page designs compliment and highlight the artwork so brilliantly. (A special note of credit to Flynn for printing the cover artist name on the front lower right corner of each issue!)

When I asked Patrick Flynn to send along illustrations from the current issue of The Baffler, he also included this wonderful description of his work that gives great insight into why the publication is such an outstanding venue for illustration:

In January, 2012, I had just turned a corner in my career as art director and publication designer, deciding to leave Rethinking Schools magazine and retire from the business of publication design. I had grown weary of editorial meddling with the art, something that had forced me out of previous employment, specifically as art director for The Progressive, where I worked from 1981 to 1999.

I’ve always been a strong advocate for political illustration, and through my years of experience have come to believe that compromising artistic vision by literary editors is most often detrimental to the creative process.

That same week, I received a call from the great political illustrator Steve Brodner, a longtime friend and associate, informing me that The Baffler was looking to restart its publication and was seeking a designer and art director to assist in the endeavor. Coincidently, I had been a subscriber and ardent fan of the journal since shortly after its inception in 1988. Following an introduction to The Baffler’s new owner and editor John Summers, and a brief and entirely agreeable interview, I leapt aboard. I redesigned the publication (issue No. 19) and have art directed it ever since. Most important to myself, I am able to give artists a place to realize a distinct and bold vision in the unbridled expression of their art, and this in tandem with the best of contemporary writing and criticism. I am, once again, proud of my work and by extension my collaboration with artists, poets, and writers in the communication of good and necessary ideas.

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point held an exhibit in 2011 of illustrations and artwork published in The Progressive during Flynn’s tenure. You can see examples of the work and read an essay by Flynn about illustration and his creative process here.

Steven Heller at Print magazine did a round up of illustration from The Baffler based on issue #22, which was their first printed in full color. You can read more about Patrick Flynn’s work, and see some great illustration samples here.


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Categories: Baffler, Guest Editor Robert Newman

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One Comment on “Magazine Spotlight – The Baffler”

  1. May 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Reblogged this on moneyfromhomesa.


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