Garden & Gun: Soul of the South

I’ve talked about (aka Facebooked, Tweeted and Instagramed about) writing a piece on Garden & Gun magazine for a long time. So finally here it is. It is worth the read.

First I would like to point out that it is an extreme rarity that I find a publication that I am 100% IN LOVE with in every single way. Partly because I love things that I feel are beyond my reach as a designer. It makes me strive that much more to be a success.

I first found Garden & Gun in the fall of 2011 (far too late if you ask me). I was taking my last magazine class at UF (University of Florida in Gainesville) and my professor pulled a handful of magazines out of her tote, as she did every week. She went through each magazine identity one by one and then passed them around the class for us to get a better look. The title threw me off at first, but now it makes more sense that ever.

Garden & Gun felt different in my hands. From the stock of the paper, the look and feel of the cover and as I thumbed through the pages, my dreams and goals as a designer flipped right in front of my eyes.

About G&G: Garden & Gun launched its first issue in 2007. The magazine won three ADDY Awards and eight Magazine Association of the Southeast GAMMA awards in its first year, while being named the nation’s second-hottest magazine launch in 2007 by MIN Magazine.  Since its launch, the magazine has won several National Magazine Awards and has proved that a southern focused, glossy regional magazine can  more than thrive in the iPad app era.

From its hometown of Charleston, S.C., Garden & Gun serves up a bimonthly magazine full of Southern hospitality that attracts a readership so devoted that many of them pay an extra $500 a year just to be a part of its “secret society.” And what do said members receive? A weekend tote bag, a decal and, like an invitation to the lavish wedding of a distant but admired relative, the opportunity to spend another $5,000 to attend an annual weekend retreat with the magazine’s writers, editors and contributors at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.

Design (my favorite part):
The design choices that are made from issue to issue continues to surprise and impress. The photography is outstanding and vivid. The layout is fresh and clean. The color palettes seems to be carefully chosen for the season and issue. Overall the design pieces fit together intricately like pieces of the most difficult puzzle.

Content: Garden & Gun is a portrait of Southern life at its finest. It covers the best of the South, including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas. Stories are adventure-bound, art-loving and full of Southern tradition and values.

Audience: Since its first issue back in 2007, the title has developed a devoted following of Southerners who appreciate the perfect mint julep, a new pecan pie recipe, deer and duck hunting in Mississippi and shooting some skeet on a chilly Sunday in Novemeber. It’s a regional publication to its very core but, in recent years, the magazine has also landed on the coffee tables of New York-based editors.

Growth: While all the congratulatory praise might seem hyperbole, the numbers back up the staff’s pride. Readers are all over the country, although about 65 percent is centered in the South. Garden & Gun initially had 19,000 paid subscribers back in 2007 around its launch, with a rate base of 150,000, and has since grown to over 173,000 paid subscriptions, with a rate base of about 225,000. A subscription for six issues per year costs around $20.

Awards (all awards since launch):

2013
ASME Best Cover Contest, “Most Delicious” cover for Oct/Nov 2012 issue
2012
MIN Editorial  & Design Awards, Winner – Photojournalism Award, “The Call of the Hunt”
ASME, National Magazine Award Nominee, General Excellence:
ASME, National Magazine Award Nominee, Single Topic Issue Category
ASME, Best Sporting Cover, Finalist

2011
Advertising Age’s 2011 Magazine A-List
ASME, National Magazine Award WINNER, General Excellence: Food, Travel & Design
James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

2010
Grand GAMMA Award
MIN Magazine, Best of the Web

2009
ASME Best Lifestyle Cover of the Year Finalist

2008
ADDY Awards (3)
PRWEB Top 20 Hottest Publications to Watch in 2008

2007
MIN Magazine, 2nd Hottest Launch
MIN Magazine, Top Editorial Team
Advertising Age’s Magazine Covers We Loved

Resources:

Garden & Gun

Women’s Wear Daily

Off the Cuff

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