The Field is a modern outdoor lifestyle publication to inspire readers to get outside. Based in New York City, The Field is operated by a modest team of dedicated media types in their spare time and contributed to by an expanding list of award winning photojournalists, professional athletes, and many more writers, photographers, and other buzzword types from around the globe. We chat to The Field founder, Graham Hiemstra about the inspiration for the publication and how to escape to nature in New York.
Tell us about The Field, what inspired you to launch the digital magazine? How has it grown since launching in 2015?
The Field is a digital publication for lovers of good design and the great outdoors. Weekly we publish gear news and reviews, interviews with designers and industry insiders, and photo essays from recent adventures both domestic and abroad. We live in New York City and create original content to inspire fellow city-dwelling outdoor enthusiasts – those who value aesthetics as much as functionality.
I grew up skateboarding, snowboarding, camping, etc around Portland and Seattle in the NW corner of the US. I was outside all the time as a youth. After uni to NYC and my relationship with the outdoors changed. Working in magazines afforded me the opportunity to travel widely, which was incredible. But after a handful of years covering design – mainly furniture, product, architecture – and men’s style I felt a need to reconnect with nature in a more substantial way. And I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one out there looking for an outdoors outlet with a more considered design sensibility. So together with friend and web developer Chris Stillitano, I launched The Field as an editorial experiment for like-minded outdoorists.
Since launching two years ago we’ve published nearly 600 original articles, including 65 feature-length profiles and 135 photo essays from dozens of contributors. It’s been really rad to see our audience grow from just friends and family to thousands of dedicated readers visiting daily from around the world. That said, we have a long way to go yet. So tell your friends!
The Field attracts contributors from across the globe; despite such a broad range of people and backgrounds, do you find the same continuing theme in that more and more people are yearning to get outdoors and explore?
Absolutely. Despite the different backgrounds, I think our message of promoting a more accessible, realistic view of the adventure really resonates with our contributors, and readers. But speaking more generally, I feel many people – myself included – are feeling overwhelmed with technology, with social media “responsibilities”, pressure to answer work emails at 9pm, and other modern anxieties. And spending time outside can be hugely helpful in managing these feelings. I think this yearning to get outdoors and explore, as you put it, is a direct response to all the crazy shit going on in the world right now – especially speaking to the absurdity of the American political system. Sometimes it can feel like nature is the only place left where things make sense.
Where do you find inspiration for all of your stories and interviewees? Do you have any favourite pieces that stand out?
I much prefer to field pitches, rather than assign, so the locations we feature in photo essays are a direct reflection of where our contributors are living and visiting. Personally, I’m always inspired by my native Pacific Northwest, but also those remote corners of the world that haven’t gotten as much exposure. For example, we recently featured work from a young photographer in Southwestern Russia, and before that a set from the desert of Oman. Both are wildly beautiful. I’d love to see more international contributions. But really, anywhere shot on film with a unique persepctive gets me hyped.
With the brand profiles and interviews, we simply want to highlight and celebrate the growing number of brands and designers making attractive AND highly functional gear for getting outdoors.
Favorite pieces to date are hands down the two features we did with Luisa Jeffrey, the badass Canadian expat who runs the wonderful Instagram account @youdidnotsleepthere. Our initial Q&A went legit viral, and the subsequent panel discussion we later held stirred up many more opinions online. It’s always fun to ruffle some features, but more importantly, start an important conversation that needs to be had. (Check out: Q&A: Celebrating Instagram’s Most Illogical Campsites With @YouDidNotSleepThere).
Despite being a publication that inspires readers to get outdoors and adventure, The Field is based in New York City. Do you find it difficult to do this yourself when living in the city? What are some of your favourite outdoor escapes close by and how do you prioritise getting outdoors?
Anything else you’d like to add?