Matt Willey is a graphic designer working with a focus on brand identity and editorial design, on projects that often incorporate his own bespoke typefaces. He was named partner in Pentagram’s New York office in December 2019.
Willey joined Pentagram after five years as Art Director of The New York Times Magazine, where he collaborated on a major redesign in 2014. His branding projects have included the design of the titles for “Killing Eve,” the award-winning BBC series created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Willey studied graphic design at Central St. Martins in London, graduating in 1997. In 2002, he joined Vince Frost at Frost Design London, ultimately rising to the position of Creative Director. In 2005, he co-founded the London-based firm Studio 8 Design with Zoë Bather. The company produced a diverse range of work that included brand identities, websites, exhibitions and environmental graphics. Willey and Bather closed the firm in 2012 to focus on independent projects, and Willey relocated to New York.
In his editorial design, Willey combines strong typography and photography to create powerful settings for the content at hand. Over the course of his career he has worked with several of the leading titles in contemporary independent publishing. He is currently the Creative Director and Senior Editor of Port, the gentlemen’s quarterly he co-founded with editor Dan Crowe. He was the first Art Director of the arts magazine Elephant, Art Director of the travel and culture magazine Avaunt, and helped launch the fashion title Plastique and Scottish contemporary art magazine MAP. He completed a redesign of UK newspaper The Independent in 2013.
Willey has designed books for the product designer Tom Dixon, the photographers Martin Parr, Frederic Lagrange and Stacey Baker; and the chef Florence Knight. Other clients include American Photography and Paripé Books.
The custom typefaces Willey creates are designed for the specific context of the brands, publications, stories and other projects in which they appear. These bespoke fonts have included AType, BWord, NewPort and NSW01, some developed in collaboration with Henrik Kubel. Willey has made several of the fonts commercially available, and proceeds from select fonts are donated to charity: His MFred and TIMMONS typefaces have helped raise more than £70,000 for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support through the Buy Fonts Save Lives initiative, while all money made from the sale of Blakey Slab goes to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Willey’s work has been recognized with numerous awards. He was named Designer of the Year by Creative Review in 2014. During his five-year tenure at The New York Times Magazine, the publication was honored with SPD Magazine of the Year in 2016 (and Finalist for 2017-2019) and SPD Brand of the Year in 2019, and more than 40 gold medals; five D&AD yellow pencils; more than 20 Gold and Silver cubes from the Art Directors Club; and awards from the Creative Review Annual and the Type Directors Club. Avaunt was a finalist for SPD Magazine of the Year and received a D&AD yellow pencil, and Port won SPD Independent Magazine of the Year in 2019. Willey’s titles for “Killing Eve” were nominated for a BAFTA Award and received a Royal Television Society Craft Award.
Willey was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) in 2015. He has served as vice chairman of The Typographic Circle and on the board of the Editorial Design Organization (EDO).