James A. Reeves is a writer, teacher, and designer whose projects examine the role of ritual and faith in these days of distraction and flux. Trained as a graphic designer and educator, his work often addresses the relationship between the image and the psyche. He frequently collaborates with the artist Candy Chang on installations that introduce new rituals into public space, most recently Light the Barricades at the Annenberg Space for Photography. More of their projects can be found at Ritual Fields.

After traveling 50,000 miles along the back roads of America, his first book, The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir, was published by W. W. Norton. His second book, The Manufactured History of Indianapolis, is a collection of fables about the Circle City. He is currently finishing his first novel, Riot and Devotion, a meditation on violence and compassion in uncertain times. He’s currently writing a post each night throughout 2020 for some self-punishing reason.

Since 2001, James has worked as a creative director, designer, and educator. He believes that, as expressed in the First Things First manifesto, graphic design is fundamentally about the creation and distribution of cultural meaning. Drawing upon his studies in design history, philosophy, and psychology, he strives to create work that dignifies and ennobles. His projects and writing have appeared in the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, Annenberg Space for Photography, as well as CBS News, New York Times, Time, and HOW Magazine. James has also taught graduate and undergraduate courses in philosophy, the history of art, pedagogy, and the politics of design at Bard Early College and Pratt Institute. He has exhibited his work and lectured in New York, Lisbon, Helsinki, Detroit, Philadelphia, Hong Kong, and Grenoble. He currently teaches at Parsons School of Design.


“Through his photographs and candid, episodic storytelling, Reeves documents his experiences and the people he encounters in various regions of the United States, reflecting with uncommon honesty on both positive and negative aspects of the culture. Reeves’s obsession with driving long distances in rental cars is fuelled by his search to figure out what it means to be an adult and to live a meaningful life in a complicated world. His unique point of view clearly comes through in both his writing and images—quirky, beautiful, disturbing, humorous, and at times unexpectedly and achingly moving.” Photo Life

“The inspiration is so simple: Head out at random into America and see what you find. James A. Reeves found the America no one seems to be looking for anymore, and he also found himself.” Roger Ebert

“A tantalizing 21st century cross between James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, this remarkable and utterly original memoir heralds the arrival of a new and important American voice. James A. Reeves’s The Road to Somewhere will take you places you will not easily forget.” Andre Dubus III


Reading List

Erik Davis

Alan Moore

Margaret Atwood

Ted Chiang

Liu Cixin

Neal Stephenson

Michiko Kakutani

Leslie Jamison

Jeff VanderMeer

William Gibson

Heavy Rotation


Monthly dispatches from the archives. Melancholy gas stations, reverberated soundtracks, and the search for faith in the digital age. Subscribe here.

About Atlas Minor

In 1537, the cartographer Gerardus Mercator published twenty-one maps of the world which, for the first time, rendered the globe as a flat surface to aid nautical navigation. Mercator titled his work Atlas as a tribute to the legendary North African king who created the first celestial globe. Although the word is now primarily associated with geography, Mercator intended his atlas to encompass the creation, history, and purpose of the universe. After his death, the Atlas Minor was published as a portable (and cheaper) version of Marcator’s large broadsheets. It was one of the last maps to feature sea monsters. I’ve adopted this name for my own constellation of personal landmarks, myths, and meditations.