American Cowboy

American Cowboy Backpacker's Design Director, Matthew Bates, shares some highlights from sister mag (and new HQ fave!) American Cowboy:
This past fall I had the opportunity to, temporarily, trade in my hiking boots and work on the redesign of our sister publication, American Cowboy. I collaborated with AC's amazing one-woman art department, Art Director Eva Young, and now that there has been a couple of issues out the door, we wanted to share couple pages...

For the redesign, the entire structure of the magazine was redeveloped, based on research done with AC subscribers.  The new Front of Book became much larger then the previous version of the magazine. This meant the need for a new navigation. As part of this, we wanted a small element that could help hold all of these new sections together as the reader moved from from one part of the FOB to the next. We ended up going with a small "AC brand" (left) which seemed perfect since the term branding actually came from livestock brands. This also gave the magazine an alternate logo to the larger nameplate.

Note the brand in use on the above pages, and below:

We really wanted to try and balance the need for AC to have a contemporary design but also recognize the history that our readers connect to the cowboy culture. Erwin Sherman's illustrations in the Lost Skills department (above) is one area that allows that sense of history to come through.

There is such a wealth of amazing photography connected to western culture that we wanted a place to showcase it. In the Frontiers department, AC runs a small photo essay from a photographer who has captured a certain aspect of western life. This selection of images from Andy Anderson (above) has been one of my favorite so far.
More spreads from the redesign below:

09AM_Cowboy Churches_1.jpg
Eva works on an incredibly tight budget issue to issue but has done, what I think, is a great job bring the west to life in the feature well.

The creative team for the American Cowboy redesign includes:

Eva Young, Art Director, American Cowboy
Matthew Bates, Design Director, Backpacker
Jackie McCaffrey, Assistant AD, Backpacker

Hey! You've probably got some NEW WORK to share, and we want to see it! We'll welcome anything that's gone to the printer recently, something you're especially proud of and think might be inspiring to the membership and readers of Grids. We'll note the credits and the publication and shine a little light on the latest and greatest in publication design.

Please reduce your layouts to no larger than 1200 pixels wide and don't forget to include all relevant credits and a little background (if you feel like). Send your submissions to and we'll post them as we get them.

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  • Neil Binkley / Wonderful Machi

    Nice work on the redesign.

    For the images, I was reminded of our Dallas photographer Tadd Myer's project, American Craftsman, which focuses on the artisans who hand-make cowboy boots, stage coaches, saddles, spurs, in addition to wooden oars and other items created using traditional methods:

  • Grant Glas

    Great work Eva! Hats-off to you and your team. A little font insight would be great.

  • Neil Jamieson


    Matt, thanks so much for this insight and congrats on some stellar work. Mad props to Eva and the gang! You've managed to find a great balance between modern composition and classic western imagery (Andy Anderson's striking images are timeless)! Smart move with the "brand" too, nice touch! Would love to hear how the readers responded.

    Interesting side note, every human (apart from Harry Vold, although I may be wrong), seems to be wearing leather chaps, is this a critical part of your redesign philosophy!? :-D

  • Robert Newman

    Wow, this is a great-looking mag. Love it. One beef: Can you hip us to the font selection and where you got them from?

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