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How We Created This Game of Thrones Themed Cover

Find out how Spotlight was able to create an extravagant Game of Thrones cover for the December issue of Bison Illustrated

We’ve been able to pull off some pretty crazy covers here at Spotlight. One of the craziest and most extravagant ideas we’ve ever executed is seen on the cover of December’s issue of Bison Illustrated. With the HBO hit show Game of Thrones in mind, we wanted to pose six North Dakota State student-athletes on and around the famous Iron Throne. 

How We Got There

It begins, as most of our magazines do, with a broad concept. Editor Nolan Schmidt had the vision for a Game of Thrones cover in mid-September. Knowing that frequent Spotlight collaborator J. Alan Paul had photographed the throne in the past, Schmidt proposed the idea to J. Alan Paul and others around Spotlight. In true J. Alan Paul fashion, he was ecstatic to do something crazy like this.

Both were told the idea was bold, but it was met with skepticism due to the difficult nature of the vision. That only motivated the Bison Illustrated team to get the image done. Over the course of the month of November, the team shot, edited and designed the cover you see now. 

The countless hours spent on this cover may never be truly documented accurately. Yet, however many hours were spent on creating the cover was redeemed thanks to the public reception of the cover. The cover image was widely engaged with on social media and was eye-catching on newsstands. 

Behind The Scenes Info

– Believe it or not, the Iron Throne featured in the image is a mini version of the famous throne. J. Alan Paul photographed the mini throne by itself, blew it up and photoshopped it in place of a chair.
– Each student-athlete on the cover was photographed separately and composited into the image together. Because athletes have differing schedules, there was not one specific time where all six could be in our studio. 
– The costumes were given to Spotlight on loan and many are fur coats or costumes intended for plays. Swords and other weaponry were purchased at a Halloween store in early November.
– The original headline for the cover was going to be “Winter Is Coming”. However, due to copyright laws, we were unable to use that phrasing as HBO owns all rights to “Winter Is Coming”. Yet, “Herd of the North” turned out to be equally fruitful in the end.

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