Field & Stream: The Rut
With the November Issue of Field & Stream hitting newsstands in a few weeks and hunting season about to open across the US I thought it would be cool to give you a sneak peak at some pages from a magazine that can be difficult to get a hold of here in NY, and explain a little bit about a big challenge for our art department...the annual re-packaging of one of our key franchises: "The Rut Issue"Readers, he is NOT kidding. Read on
Hunting and fishing may not be your thing but think of Field & Stream's November "Rut Issue" as our version of Vogue's "September Issue"...seriously. Why? Well, it's a marquee issue for us that readers (and our ad sales guys) anticipate all year, marking the beginning of an exciting new season. There are a few differences between F&S and Vogue (...er okay, there's probably more than a few!!), but our "fall season" is Whitetail Deer Hunting Season. While fashion trends evolve every year, the behavior of a trophy buck in the fall has remained stubbornly unchanged for hundreds of years. That's where we as an art department come in; our challenge every November is to deliver the same formula of compelling stories and sound advice (that our readership of roughly 10 million outdoorsmen have come to expect over the last 115 years) in new and surprising ways. Our November issues also cover bird hunting (ducks/geese and pheasants) survival and some cold weather fishing too.
November's cover is typically all about the "critter shot". We rely on our army of embedded wildlife photographers hunkered down in blinds all over the country to track, find and photograph our cover models. Their only brief from us? Make sure it's HUGE. These compelling images paired with the cover line "the rut" are a proven newsstand hit. This year's cover is more ambitious in its composition (a "white cover" is a bit of a departure for us) and typography but the fundamental cover principle remains the same. Kudos to our Editor in Chief Anthony Licata for letting us take a few risks with this one.
Here is a look at some openers from November's FOB and BOB sections...aside from pacing out the issue and introducing the sections ("Bullet Points" is our column sections, "Sportsman's Notebook" represents our how-to section and "Field Test" is our gear section) these pages serve as an opportunity for us to visually engage our reader and give them some surprising eye candy, and a place where we can have some fun with our use of photo and illustration. Seen here the work of regular F&S contributors and mega-talented photographers Dan Saelinger and Travis Rathbone. I also included a couple of inside pages from our Sportsman's Notebook section to show the complex nature of the information we need to deliver.
Here are some pages from the rut cover package and openers from November's feature well. Again we try and surprise our readers by hiring artists and photographers not typically associated with the "hook and bullet" genre, for example Ture Lillegraven shoots our trophy buck "success strory" (Rut Giants), Michael Sugrue gets in deep with our duck-calling champ Ryan Nolan (One Kid's Calling), and print-maker Andrew R Wright composed this stunning opener illo for our Fishing Adventure piece (The Cult of the Steelhead). We try and have fun with our typography and page composition where appropriate but are mindful that the most important part of our job is to communicate this complex information with clarity, and a voice appropriate to the brand.
Here are a few alternate layout concepts that never made it to press for the November Issue (they are REALLY rough idea pitches...so go easy on the typography!!). As an art department it's our job to be ambitious and pitch concepts that give editors options and suggest new ways of telling stories. Aside from being a lot of fun for us, I think this creates a healthy collaborative environment and can generate some great new ideas.
This Bullet Points Opener idea didn't really tell the story in quite the right way and was replaced with our heroic match still life (see above):
And this treatment of "Fowl Language" was dropped in favor of "One Kid's Calling" (see above) because, as the story evolved, we felt the piece required a more sensitive, reflective treatment.
The opener layouts that accompany outtakes from Ture Lillegravens shoot ("Party Animals" and ..."About Last Season") weren't used for a couple of reasons...it mainly came down to space (read: lack of!)--the package was scaled back from 12 pages to 11 and the loss of real estate meant we had to be more economical with our use of space.
Thanks for taking a look at these and major thanks to photo director Amy Berkley and associate Art Director Mike Ley. -- NJ
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