In-house Insights: Dirk Does Newsweek & The Daily Beast

Dirk Barnett, an internationally recognized designer of magazines, took on the monumental task of not only redesigning both Newsweek and The Daily Beast, but also merging their 2 creative teams. In this interview, he pulls back the curtains on just how he accomplished this – the corporate culture issues he had to address, the relationships he had to build, the outside support he drew upon and the logistical hurdles he had to overcome. This, and more, is a preview to the live presentation he’ll be making at the groundbreaking Abstract Conference being held in Maine this June. 

Dirk Barnett has been a player in the magazines industry for over 17 years. He originally earned a BA in Magazine Writing from the University of Oregon Journalism School, but started his career as an art and photo intern at Mirabella magazine in 1994. In 1996, he was offered a designer position at Vanity Fair magazine, but chose to work with type maestro’s David Armario and Tom Brown at Men’s Journal. This ignited a passion for the business that has lead him to such career hightlights as:

• Redesigning 8 major newsstand titles including Maxim, Blender, Premiere and Popular Science

• Launching Key, the New York Times Real Estate Magazine

• Telling Olivia Wilde on a photoshoot to “please put your shirt back on.”

• Sending war photographer Antonin Kratochvil out into the field to trail Motley Crue for 5 days

• Winning a National Magazine Award for General Excellence for Popular Science magazine

• Being asked to art direct and design American Photography 26

Barnett’s work has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Art Directors Club, the Type Directors Club, British Design & Art Direction, the Society of Publication Designers, American Illustration, American Photography, Print and Communication Arts. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts and lives in New York City with his wife and son.





Please note, this interview was recorded before Newsweek Daily Beast Chairman Sidney Harmon passed away on April 12, 2011. To read more about his incredible life, please go to