Lindsay Ballant: The Baffler

With a redesign & resurgence in an interest in politics, The Baffler arrests with visual and written content.

ADC Young Guns 7 winner Lindsay Ballant, a multidisciplinary art director, designer and educator with a passion for media, politics, global culture and storytelling gets to flex her skills as recently appointed art director of  The Baffler. The quarterly journal of left-leaning cultural, political, and business analysis and critique began in 1988 by the author and historian Thomas Frank. With a recent change of editors, promoting Chris Lehmann over the summer who was previously a senior editor, The Baffler brought in Lindsay as their new art director, where she’s since worked on the premier redesign issue and post-election issue, “The Virtue Cartel” on newsstands now. The art direction and design of the pages are all by Lindsay and the redesign was lead by Eddie Opara’s dream team over at Pentagram, and wouldn’t you know, the cover was done only as it could be by illustrator (and ADC Member) Clay Rodery. It’s great to be part of this club. Lindsay was gracious enough to send us images showcasing the changes in the design, the new art direction, and the visual history of The Baffler.


Acclaimed by Vox as “The hallmark…of self-conscious crankiness…The Baffler’s basic worldview is that everything is terrible, and also that all change is for the worse. In a world of enthusiasts, this is the voice of dyspepsia.” In their view and their dedication to design, the early issues of the Baffler (from the late ’80’s), were constructed in a more zine-like fashion, using a variety of typography in a very slapdash, irreverent way. Recent iterations of The Baffler over the past decade took a more literary tone, using more traditional scotch rules and flourishes, and traditional san-serifs. For Lindsay, this new redesign melds a modern look that borrows heavily from The Baffler’s brazen past, assigning a different set of typefaces for each section—Salvos (essays), Art/Poetry/Fiction, Opinion (Outbursts), and Front and Back matter.

We hope to keep the strict template and really push the use of typefaces as moments of irreverence and defiance.

As for the art direction, Lindsay and team brought in some fresh faces for the contributors, and plan to use more fine artists and a combination of known and unknown illustrators, artists, comic artists, and photographers in the upcoming issues. “We want to make sure we’re smart, intellectual, and biting and confrontational, and not in a simply mocking or ironic way. I also hope to use The Baffler’s pages and site as a platform for visual artists and designers to express their own opinions and present their own arguments. We’re committed to designating space in the publication for the Exhibits, where artists present their own narrative which falls within the theme of each issue. For example, for this issue, artist and designer James Lawrence Hughes did an 8-page piece on the theme of Virtue.”


It seems after this year’s election there’s been a resurgence of interest in thoughtful leftist opinion and journalism, and Lindsay knows for a fact that The Baffler has seen their subscriptions and donations grow a significant amount this year, most especially after the election. According to The New York Times, [The Baffler] is “The magazine [that] pioneered a distinctive brand of analysis — hip to pop culture, but skeptical of its claims of political subversiveness — and inspired a later generation of upstart journals like n+1 and Jacobin “these titles and others like Paste and Dissent are riding the wave, in terms of new and renewed popularity. As parts of the Democratic base move to the left, they’ve given us something to talk about–and it sure looks great too.

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