Nathan Strandberg is a Minneapolis-based photographer and co-owner of the design boutique, Eight Hour Day that’s known for its eye-catching work for museums, megastores, and magazines. “Our goal,” he said, “is to create work that’s honest, that’s conceptually interesting and visually stunning.” A philosophy that’s clearly evident in his recent design collaboration with editorial photographer, Shaun Fenn.
When Everything Old is News Again
When fellow photographer and friend Shaun Fenn first reached out to Nate to design a new mailer featuring rowing images he’d shot in 2017, the assignment appeared pretty black and white. “Shaun had seen an unbound, newsprint piece on Instagram that had been printed by The Newspaper Club that he really liked,” Nate recalled. “Then, he sent his B&W crew images, which had a really cool, classic vibe to them and I was like “Oh yeah, you’re right, these would be perfect for a newsprint-style piece.” Seeing the two together sparked his imagination and mine.”
Here Comes the Bad News
But, as Nate and Shaun soon discovered, agreeing on the concept was the easy part. “We had no idea we’d have the challenges we did, “ Nate said. Using actual newsprint had to be abandoned because the reproduction quality wasn’t there. Shaun’s original printing choice, The Newspaper Club in the UK, had to be scratched because the quantity was too small – only 3,000, and shipping costs were too high.
Papering the Walls
When it came to the design, Nate recalled, it was quintessential Shaun. “He selected and sent me 20 images and said, “Make sure you use every one,“ he recalled. “It’s the way we usually work. It’s really the only direction he ever gives. He trusts me to pair the shots, to bring them together cohesively through a visual narrative and tastefully brand it.”
Looking back, it’s really all the direction I needed,” he said. “Shaun’s pictures tell such a great story. I just had to weave them together and make sure each page could live on its own and be recognized as a Shaun Fenn piece so if someone wanted to grab a sheet and pin it up in the office like a poster, they could.”
Classic Shaun From Start to Finish
“I would love to say that we did something fancy, but we didn’t.”, Nate continued. “Everything was driven by Shaun’s original desire to do it on simple newsprint. It’s why we went with the 9 x 12 unbound format, why we originally pursued printing it in the UK and why we ultimately opted for an uncoated paper.”
“As I said, Shaun was in love with the look he’d first seen posted by The Newspaper Club,” Nate said. “And he was determined. But, the quantity and the number of pages that Shaun was printing didn’t make it viable. So, we took another route, sourced newspaper printers, even opted for a nicer paper and finally found our way to Smartpress,” he explained.
“In the end,” Nate said, “by going with an uncoated stock, doing a hard proof, and then, going through it one by one and lightening up the spots that were a little too dark or too shadowy, we got to a great result.” And from the looks of Shaun’s posting announcement on Instagram, he thought so, too. “ Back up the mail trucks!,” it said, “Warn all the creative desktops. Fenn Crew mailer incoming!”