Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cover Art Goodness

Since I live 90 miles away from the nearest newsstand that carries The Drake, I've been telling myself I need to just bite the bullet and get a subscription (that's what I eventually did with Gray's and what I still need to do with Flyfish Journal, too).

That way I won't take the chance of missing any issues, especially issues that might be sporting awesome cover art like this (via Buster Wants To Fish)

Now that one is a keeper. And if you're interested, here's the artist website.

And it brings up a question: Why the hell don't sporting mags put real art on their covers any more? Outside of Gray's and Sporting Classics I don't think any hook-and-bullet mags still routinely use original artwork.

Which is a shame, really. Honestly, do we really need an endless barrage of covers featuring underwear models, game-farm bucks, barnyard turkeys, trained megafauna and the latest in tactical cutlery? What's wrong with every now and then using a real artist? Maybe something created from an individual vision rather than a marketing decision.?

It's the damndest thing: the production values on modern magazine covers have never been higher. The photography has never been more technically perfect. The design and art direction has never been more slick and refined. And the end product we see on the newsstand has never been more soulless, antiseptic, inorganic and utterly forgettable.

I glance through a lot of magazines because most of them aren't worth reading (and oftentimes the cluttered, manic, counter-intuitive and generally goofy-ass design and layout actually inhibits reading them...), much less admiring as a piece of pop or commercial art. Happily, this issue of The Drake is both. Now I just need to go find a copy.


  1. I wonder if magazine art will ever catch on... as this is the only reason I buy from territorial seed company. Their magazines have beautiful art on the cover.

  2. The Pointing Dog Journal always uses "art" on their covers, and to be honest I'm getting sick of it. It's as predictable as the grip and grin shots on the cover of Fly Fisherman. With respect to bird hunting, I like action. Birds in the air and dogs' eyes as wide as saucers. Of course, that's got to be one of the most difficult photos in all of outdoor sports.

  3. Good point, Jon. I buy both the PDJ and RJ and I completely forgot about both in writing the post.

    I absolutely agree with your argument. There's an awful lot of really, really boring and/or derivative sporting art out there.

    The August bird-hunting edition of Gray's is a perfect example. The cover is, quite frankly, a yawner, two pointers in a typical overly romanticized Thomas Kincaide (shudder)type setting. Big freakin' deal. Yeah, I know the dude who painted it was probably some famous 19th century sporting artist, but to me it's just boring as hell.

    But then you look at the print on the inside back cover, "On the loose" by a guy named Mark Eberhard. It's an awesome painting (I tried to find an image to link to but couldn't)and I wonder what the hell was going through the editors' heads when they were deciding on the cover. Were they purposely trying for the dated, stodgy look?

    I mean, I like tradition as much as the next guy, but it's gotta be balanced with new ways of looking at and interpreting things.

    Which is why I love the Drake cover. I'd love for PDJ, RJ, Shooting Sportsman, etc. to start featuring some more contemporary and stylized sporting and sporting dog art, and pphotography, if it's something other than the same stock agency-type images we see all the time.

  4. The London Review of Books has a nice policy for its covers - they've been using the work of the artist and writer Peter Campbell for years and his stuff is delightful. Some examples here: LRB animal covers


  5. Beautiful! And I too am sick as hell of cliche magazine covers. Two things that immediately cause a gag reflex for me: whitetail bucks and the broken double gun with a dead bird over a stupid expensive article of hunting clothing. Blah blah blah.

    Personally, I would like to start an Onion for outdoor journalism so I can make fun of this stuff with more gusto. I know, yeah, that's gonna happen.