The Field Notes Space Program

Field Notes’ 39th quarterly limited edition celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. “Three Missions” featured three notebooks exploring the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

As a bonus, we decided to include paper models of the three spacecraft, which involved extensive research and development, both visually and mechanically. I developed the models mostly by trial-and error, drawing prototypes in Adobe Illustrator and testing them one at a time. After the first few prototypes, I got tired of cutting by hand and rigged a vinyl cutter to cut most of the way through the paper so I could punch them out. After about a dozen prototypes of each model, Aaron and I roughed together the artwork in his “Thick Lines” aesthetic, then I cleaned it up to conform to the dies and added some historical details from my research. Since the craft were pictured in process-color photos on the books, I simplified the pallet to three colors for each book to mimic the more primitive printing that would have likely been used in the Sixties.

The instructions were designed to match a period Revell plastic model kit. I created exploded isometric diagrams and line drawings of assembly, and wrote slightly-too-wordy instructions featuring the typical overabundance of advice found in such a model kit.

To promote the edition, Steve Delahoyde, Erica Gerdes, and I actually launched our Apollo capsules into (inner) space using two weather balloons rigged with cameras and GPS devices. That project featured weeks of planning, more math than I’ve ever done before or since, and an thrilling launch day in Iowa, best experienced through Mission Specialist Erica’s story on the Field Notes site.