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.


Spotlight is Hiring

At Spotlight, we’re ambitious, hungry and always looking to grow. If that sounds like you, we have a couple positions to know about. Some of the perks of working full-time at Spotlight include…

  • Medical Insurance (50% employer paid for employee)
  • Dental and Vision Insurance (50% employer paid for employee)
  • Vision Savings Pass (discount program)
  • Life and Disability Insurance (100% employer paid for employee)
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • PTO
  • Volunteer Time Off
  • Paid Holidays
  • Matching Charitable Donations
  • 401K with employer match up to 3% (after one year of employment)
  • Half day Fridays in the summer

WordPress Developer

Spotlight is expanding and looking for an intelligent, creative and energetic team player with professional experience in WordPress website development. The work is challenging, fast-paced and always changing. The ideal candidate has strong analytical skills, unwavering commitment to quality, extensive knowledge of WordPress, collaborative work ethic and the ability to use standardized coding is required. The candidate must have a lot of experience working with WordPress and creating websites using WordPress.

This role will include maintaining and developing Spotlight’s technology products along with the needs of clients and responsible for implementing visual elements that users see and interact within a web application.

You will…
  • Work with Spotlight’s clients on developing new and engaging websites that fulfill their vision
  • Work on Spotlight’s websites and help ensure we have the best looking and dynamic website in the region

WordPress Developer and Videography Internships

Spotlight is expanding and looking for two intelligent, creative and energetic team players who are looking to grow. We’re looking for a WordPress Developer Intern and a Videography Intern. The work is challenging, fast-paced and always changing. See below for more information

WordPress Developer Internship Expectations
The ideal intern will work along with our web development team in creating websites with WordPress and they must have strong analytical skills, unwavering commitment to quality, extensive knowledge of WordPress, collaborative work ethic and the ability to use standardized coding is required.

Videography Internship Expectations
This intern will work with our videography team on helping edit footage, tear down and set up sets, assisting with backing up, importing and organizing files and generally assisting with any other duties. This intern must be open to constructive criticism, have an extreme passion for creating beautiful and effective videos and have a collaborative work ethic.

New Hire

Spotlight On Spotlight With Ella Harrison

Get to Know Spotlight’s Newest Account Representative

We’re always excited to grow and bring on new employees so that’s why we want to introduce you to Ella Harrison, Spotlight’s newest Account Representative.

Ella Harrison Acount Representative
Where are you from?
Born and raised in Wadena, MN.

Tell us a little bit about you.
I am an avid outdoor enthusiast that loves everything from hunting big game to catching perch off the end of the dock. I enjoy going to the gym, yoga, kickboxing, and the occasional run. I have been blessed with two supportive parents and a great older brother. I am an auntie to one yellow lab named Buddy.

If there was a movie about your life, who would play you and why?
If there was a movie about my life, I would have Jennifer Aniston play me simply because I love the TV show Friends.

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I love being with friends and family. Whether we are at the lake or in the sticks scouting for birds, it is always a good time.

What’s a ridiculous fact about yourself?
A ridiculous fact about myself is that I am able to do a headstand while wake surfing.


Have You Heard The Bison Illustrated Podcast?

Are you or someone you know a proud supporter of North Dakota State athletics? If so, make sure you tune into the Bison Illustrated Podcast. Bison Illustrated senior columnist Josh Swanson and editor Nolan Schmidt take their North Dakota State conversation off the page and into your ears. The end result is a show full of high-octane, free-flowing Bison takes that are sure to get you fired up for Bison sports.

Swanson and Schmidt discuss the latest news in NDSU athletics, preview upcoming games, interview Bison coaches and student-athletes and answer the questions every Bison fan is asking on a daily basis. The duo never ceases to provide endless entertainment from the moment you press play. Because of this, the Bison Illustrated Podcast is one of the top-rated NDSU podcasts in the Midwest and is the most listened to Bison show in the area.

With droves of loyal listeners, the Bison Illustrated Podcast can always use more avid fans. This podcast is perfect for the Bison superfan as well as the casual college sports nut. There is something for everyone to enjoy when Swanson and Schmidt are behind the microphone. 

While several episodes feature just Swanson and Schmidt, the Bison Illustrated Podcast has an endless list of guests. The pair frequently invites other Fargo media members on the show to discuss a wide array of topics. From Jeff Kolpack to Dom Izzo to Brian Shawn and even Mike McFeely, the Bison Illustrated Podcast has had them all on the show. 

Not only that, the Bison Illustrated Podcast is fortunate enough to have coaches and student-athletes on frequently too. In recent months, Swanson and Schmidt have spoken to NDSU football quarterback coach Randy Hedberg, offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl and even former Bison quarterback and current Los Angeles Charger Easton Stick.

There is no better time than now to catch up on all the episodes of the Bison Illustrated Podcast. The show can be found on SoundCloudiTunesSpotify and Google Play. Head over to your favorite medium and hit the subscribe button on the Bison Illustrated Podcast. Make sure to drop us a five-star review too


Spotlight Has Created It’s Largest Magazine Ever

At Spotlight, we try and outdo ourselves every month. Well, this month, we feel like we truly succeeded. At 212 pages, the May Fargo INC! is Spotlight’s largest magazine it’s ever produced.  In a special collaboration with Emerging Prairie, Fargo INC! covered the Grand Farm Initiative, a new farm being created on 40-acres of land south of Fargo that aims to become the first fully automated farm. 

In the May Fargo INC!, you’ll find exclusive interviews, photo shoots and stories with industry experts like…

Jeanne Crain – Bremer Bank
Joel Honeyman – Bobcat Doosan
Kevin Biffert – Fargo Automation
Mayor Tim Mahoney – City of Fargo
Senator John Hoeven
Ed Schafer – Former governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sunny Purdue

Barry Batcheller – Appareo
Erik Hardmeyer – Bank of North Dakota
Jon Godfread – ND Insurance Commissioner
Tammy Miller – Valley Prosperity Partnership
NDSU President Dean Bresciani
Ryan Raguse and Jake Joraanstad – Bushel
Howard Dahl – Amity Technology

“The support from the community was unprecedented for this issue,” said Andrew Jason, Editorial Director for Spotlight. “From North Dakota’s founding, it has been built on a legacy of agriculture and innovation. The work being done in this 40-acres will ensure we are able to feed the growing global population.”

We worked with people and companies from across the state and country to accurately cover how North Dakota is setting itself as a leader in ag tech. We also were excited to mail the magazine to farms across the state of North Dakota and western Minnesota and every business in North Dakota with 2-40 employees. 

We are excited to continue to cover the work that Emerging Prairie and Grand Farm continue to do in our community and beyond. To read all of our coverage on Grand Farm, go to and you can read the digital version of the magazine here.