Dear Readers,

There’s a cherry tree that I can see from the window of the home office where I’ve spent much of our long pandemic year. It’s the only one of its kind on the block. For a few days each spring, the tree is a glorious explosion of pink blossoms. In 2020, that brief stretch of time felt like a reminder of all the life we were needlessly losing. Scarcely anyone was outside to enjoy the flowers emerging from the tree’s spindly limbs, thwarted from the beauty of one force of nature by the ravages of another.

This year is different. It feels like a time—it is a time—of fresh starts. The tree is in full bloom, and people on leisurely strolls, or walking their kids to school, or returning from work at the golden hour, often stop to admire it. They consider the shock of pink standing bravely, gracefully, between sidewalk and curb. Some of them take photos. Others get close, lean into the branches, even peel their masks back to sniff the lush petals. 

I can’t help but think of this tree as we debut the new Atavist Magazine—and not only because I’ve been staring at it, waiting for it to peak, as we’ve been preparing for launch. The tree is both renewed and familiar, and so singular that people want to pause to experience it as fully as possible. We hope The Atavist Magazine, in its latest form, achieves something similar. 

What we produce hasn’t changed—the depth and breadth of our stories, the care put into crafting them, their monthly arrival in our subscribers’ inboxes. What’s new is our look: It’s sleek, streamlined, and, we think, beautiful.

When reimagining the magazine’s overall design, art director Ed Johnson was guided by the same principle he applies to each month’s issue: Focus on the story. We’re not pursuing endless clicks around the site, but rather appreciation and careful attention from our readers. We’ve pared the magazine down to its essence, crafting a sturdy yet literary design that highlights our most recent issues, while also making it easy to peruse our archive of more than 100 stories. We’ve based it all around a new typeface called Triptych, which consists of just three variations: a Roman, an Italic, and a sans serif Grotesque, which together form a distinct, unadorned whole. Typeface designer Ellmer Stefan of the Pyte Foundry calls his creation a mule, because it’s “confident and hardworking.” (We agree.)

For ten years, the magazine was supported by the Atavist publishing platform. As of today, it is powered by WordPress.com, showcasing just how dynamic the world’s most popular content management system can be for publishers of all sizes. The redesign was built using Newspack, an advanced open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations, created by WordPress.com and the Google News Initiative. We’re excited to be part of the Newspack community, which is now nearly 90 publications strong.

We hope you love the new Atavist Magazine as much as we do. Let us know what you think by leaving a note on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or by contacting us via email. Please forgive the dust, so to speak, as we’re still restoring or tweaking the original designs of some of the stories in our archive.

And if you haven’t already, please consider subscribing. Our subscriptions program directly funds the work of freelance journalists, and our parent company, Automattic, matches every subscription dollar we earn with two more—all of which we put toward future projects.  

Most of all, thanks for reading. Here’s to a new beginning. 


Seyward Darby
Editor in Chief


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