Sun, Sans and Serifs: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2011

Sun, Sans and Serifs: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2011
Fed up with the gloom of a seemingly endless winter, ready for a blast of sun, sand and serifs (heck this is a design blog after all!)...well this should blow the cobwebs off! Today sees the US release of the 2011 Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Issue....the most successful magazine franchise on earth! We checked in with Creative Director Chris Hercik to see if he could spare some time in his hectic launch schedule to show us some pages and give us some insight into what it takes to put this thing together.

Q: We should get this out of the way first, Hell of a cover. Irina Shayk looks amazing...I'm sure you've been working on dozens of covers throughout this lengthy process so how long did it take you guys to settle on this image/composition and what was it about this cover that convinced you that this was the ONE. 

C.H: Personally, Irina Shayk's photos were my favorites early on in the process. But the particular cover photograph is just stellar, shot beautifully by Bjorn Iooss. (Bjorn is a Rookie Photographer this year) Everything about this photo works; the eye contact, the voluptuousness, the spot on exposure, the color and the composition of the pose allows her to just fill up the cover yet still allow for minimal cover lines (that nobody ever looks at, can you blame them.)

Q: Tell us about this issue, what are you most excited about/proud of and why, any famous models we should be on the lookout for?


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BROOKLYN DECKER 1.jpg    BROOKLYN 2.jpg


BODY PAINT.jpg     HAWAII.jpg


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C.H: This Swimsuit issue is going to be large this year. First of all you have the traditional print product, but for the first time you will also see the issue on the iPad and on the Galaxy tablets. Both, will integrate about 30 percent more content and showcase over 50 rockin' videos. Videos that range from a behing-the-scenes look at body painting, to on location montages, to the sexiest videos of each and every model, and more. 
All three products are designed and packaged to have the same look and feel but will use the strength of each device to showcase specific content. As for the design and fonts...let just say, "Thin is in."

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SWIM music.jpg

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SWIM interactive.jpg

SWIM ROOKIES.jpg    SWIM paint.jpg

SWIM brooklyn.jpg    SWIM pix.jpg


Q:  This is your 8th swimsuit issue as design director...tough job...,where does this rank among your favorites?

C.H: This year and last year's issues are my favorites partially because the cameras have evolved so much that the beauty is all in the detail. But I will say the Music Issue of Swimsuit was one of the coolest issues we've done. Remember that photo of Marissa Miller wearing only an iPod?

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2007 SWcovPromo.jpg     2007 SWMUSICIANS.106.jpg

Q:  So we know that behind the scenes on a photo shoot is not as glamorous as people outside our community think it is, but lets be honest, this is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, how bad could it really be!?  Okay go ahead, make us jealous, tell us about your favorite shoots you've been on. 

C.H: What do you mean? This is hazardous work. Severe sunburn can ruin a week in some of the most stellar places on this earth. But seriously, this past twelve months I've been lucky enough to see 2 locations at opposite ends of the spectrum. First there was Banff (Athlete photo shoot) with these jaw dropping mountain vistas view and beautiful teal color silted water from glacial run off. And then there was Fiji, after 2 days of travel the last leg of the trip culminated in a dramatic sea plane ride that swooped in and landed us at a dock right in front of 20 or so Fijians that were singing, welcoming us with music, bright red gorgeous flowers (inspiration for color in the issue) and some delicious rum drink. It could possible be the most beautiful island on this earth. [thats chris hard at work in the back row there with the black tee]

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TRAVEL page.jpg    SWIM fiji.jpg


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Q: The swimsuit issue really is a year in the making...when did you and your team start producing material?

C.H: Swimsuit has become a 365 day process. As soon as the parties stop the team is back to work planning next year's issue. As for the design part of it, that starts in November and wraps up a week before the issue launches in February. Photo selections start after each shoot but they carry on from June into early January. 

Q:  Of course the swimsuit issue is way more than just a printed issue, its been described as a "media nexus" (check out this photo chris gave us of the plane decals he designed for the 2010 swimsuit issue....yeah a...PLANE!!!). TV specials, DVDS, a host of coffee table books, the usual merchandise and in 2006 the issue expanded to handheld devices. Sports Illustrated has famously lead the charge for print publications on the ipad, the galaxy and of course google's chrome browser so what should we expect to see in the app store this week!?

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C.H: Lets just say this. You saw the reveal of the issue on Letterman last night (below is a photo of the billboard reveal that The Huffington Post's spies snuck a shot of monday afternoon!) and the issue hits newsstands today (Tuesday). You can download it on the iPad (see app preview images at the top of this blog) and the Galaxy. You can see it on Google Chrome and as a part of SI Snapshot. We have an iPhone app and an Android app as well. You can visit SI.com/swimsuit where hundreds of millions page views will happen over the next two months. You can buy the DVDs, the calendars, the books and possibly the SI swimsuit coffee mug (kidding about the last one). It truely is ALL-ACCESS to the Swimsuit Issue.

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Another great issue, kudos to Chris and his team who worked on this issue Steve Skalocky, Liana Zamora and Ana Kula. Also the rest of his staff who managed to produce the weekly issue while this was all going on...Ed Truscio, Eric Marquard, Josh Denkin, Dwayne Bernard and Rose DiMaria


See related stories:
Swimsuit 2010: Brooklyn On A Snowy Day
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