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The Man With Designs on Us

Behind the magazine's new look and logo

2 min read
Carl DeTorres
Photo: Randi Silberman Klett

Fourteen months ago, when we went looking for a designer to redesign the print edition of IEEE Spectrum, Senior Art Director Mark Montgomery considered candidates very carefully. In the end he chose Oakland, Calif.–based Carl DeTorres, and in this issue you will see the results of that choice.

Growing up in Southern California in the 1980s, DeTorres became hooked on books about space travel, robots, architecture, and other tech-sci subjects. He especially loved the diagrams, and in time, it turned out that his natural talents ran more toward art than math. After getting a bachelor’s degree at the California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, he worked for four years as an art director at Wired.

In redesigning Spectrum’s print edition, DeTorres worked closely with Method New York, the firm that was in the process of redesigning Spectrum’s website. Out of that collaboration came Spectrum’s new, iconic logo, the big, striated “S” you see in the upper-left-hand corner of this month’s cover.

The logo project began going in that direction during a meeting at Method’s offices in lower Manhattan, when DeTorres asked, “Have you ever seen a chart of the radio spectrum? It’s really beautiful.” That got the Method people thinking. In the “S” logo they designed, the striations represent different frequency bands. When they first showed the logo to DeTorres, his reaction was immediate. “I thought: Perfect,” he says. “They nailed it.”

DeTorres arrived at our office on a brisk, bright October day to present his final templates. The next day, after many exhausting meetings with art directors and editors, he stole away for a lunchtime break. His destination was a gallery with a load of vintage technology posters by one of his heroes, the illustrator Erik Nitsche. A couple of hours later he returned with three of Nitsche’s works.

Even on days when he hasn’t found graphic-arts treasures, DeTorres’s upbeat demeanor can be infectious. “I love my work, because I get to learn about things all the time,” he says. “What more can you ask for in a job?”

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