September 18, 2013

282: The Cover Story

The organization that I work for, Ducks Unlimited Canada, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and I was tasked with the design of a special-edition issue of its members' magazine, Conservator. This in itself was not a surprise; I've handled design of sixty issues of the publication in English and French over the past 14 years. But this edition afforded me to expand beyond its typical 30-40-page length and really establish a solid visual theme and aesthetic over a publication double its normal size. Again, not the biggest whoop in design circles – but a wonderful opportunity for me. It was a great edition to be a part of.

The issue's theme – Our Bold Present, Our Promising Future – required some thought in particular, for a cover concept. Vibrant, busy, collage-based ideas were bandied about, but I was of the mindset from the get-go that the theme should be represented by a single, strong image that could cover several bases: present/future, youth/the next generation, the outdoors, recreation, conservation and of course, ducks and waterfowl. And be iconically Canadian.

(Iconically… is that a word? I'm checking. Yes, I think so. Kind of. Iconically.)

I knew of a candidate image almost immediately, that I took of Kerry's nephew Duncan near his cottage at Lake Athapapuskow, Manitoba, in 2011. He was fishing from a neighbour's dock with his dog on a summer evening at sunset, and I came along to watch and take photos. It was a beautiful time.

For the magazine cover, the image underwent only minor tweaking: cropping, some cloud removal and extension of the sky tones to enable placement of the headline copy and masthead, dodging/burning and most noticeably, the digital addition of a small, silhouetted flock of ducks. I did not reveal that I had taken the photo until after production, lest it sway opinions during the magazine's various stages of editing and approvals. The headline typeface is Gibson Bold.