I recently had the pleasure of working with Ross Nethery, Managing Editor of SportsBusiness Journal, to illustrate the cover of their 20th anniversary issue. As Ross explained to me:
The anniversary issue is a celebration of 20 years of publishing two products — SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Journal — that are written for and about people who make their living in the sports industry… Because our readership is so varied, it is difficult to come up with a concept that encompasses everything that we and our industry have touched on over the years. We cover industry segments ranging from sponsorships and marketing to media, labor, finance and facilities. We cover sports ranging from football (NFL and college) to tennis to bull riding to the Olympics.
It was very clear to me that this image shouldn’t be about a specific sport, or athletes; rather it should talk about the sports industry in general. How to encompass all that, and the idea of the 20th anniversary of SportsBusiness Journal? The basic concept I came up with was to use stadia in the form of the numeral “20.” Stadia show up in most major sports, and represent a huge part of where sports business takes place. Here’s the first quick thumbnail:
Ross and I both liked the general concept, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the text placement. Ross indicated that the preliminary text I had been working with would be changing. He also spoke about how much the industry had changed since 1994, especially with the advent of streaming media on mobile devices. This gave me the idea of including a smartphone for part of the image. I also included some tailgaters in the parking lot, and some fireworks to indicate celebration. I added some basic values in black and white to show where the emphasis would be.
Although Ross and I were happy with the direction, something was bugging me about the “floating hand.” I worked up another sketch and sent it to Ross the next day:
Here’s Ross’s response:
I think you may be on to something. I was just taking a look at the sketch you sent yesterday, and while I like the overall direction, I’ve been a little bugged by the floating hand, too, because while it fits into the overall story that the image is telling, I don’t think that story would be as clear to the reader as it is to us.
But the idea of having this appear on a device being held by someone inside a stadium really hits the mark. Not only do you get the image of the “20” stadia and all that that conveys, but you get it on a device that it wouldn’t have been available on just a couple of years ago. That would really illustrate what is probably the biggest push, and worry, and opportunity that our industry is going through right now — not only offering more sports content on more devices, but doing so inside of stadiums and arenas as a way to entice people to get off of their couches and actually go to the games.