The talented editor talks about her love for magazines and her vision for one of Britain’s biggest household brands.
It is no news that Media 10 employs some of the most talented creatives in the country. This year, we welcomed renowned editor Karen Stylianides to oversee one of the nation’s most loved brands – Grand Designs Magazine.
We caught up with Karen, who kindly gave us some time even during her hectic schedule; and were inspired by her love for magazines. Out top tip: read attentively as her advice on how to get onto the editorial ladder is simply unmissable!
You have joined Media 10 to edit one of Britain’s most coveted brands – Grand Designs magazine. What is your vision for the publication?
The magazine has such incredibly strong brand recognition and reputation, both in the UK and globally, that I want to continue to build on this amazing heritage by showcasing the most inspirational self-build and renovation projects – whether single room transformations, extensions or entire house builds. But a ‘grand design’ doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘big’ or ‘super-expensive’. A modest self-build is often, by necessity, the most innovative in terms of design, build method and materials used. Elaine and Micah Jones’ barn-style home from the most recent TV series (featured in the November issue) was a great example, and with a build cost of £245,000 it was also one of the most affordable.
It’s also crucial in the self-build and renovation sector of the market to draw upon the very latest and most knowledgeable expert advice from within the industry. So, I’m working hard to gather a panel of top-notch professionals to provide readers with the project information they’re looking for.
What is the best part of being Editor of Grand Designs magazine?
I absolutely love it when the first crisp and shiny copies of a new issue come into the office and I get a proper look at the result of everyone’s hard work over the past few weeks. But I confess that my first flick through happens with one eye closed, as I have an irrational fear that there will be a page missing!
When did you realise you wanted to work in magazines?
My love for magazines really started when I was given a copy of the American title Martha Stewart Living back in the 1990s. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in print and it also kick-started my passion for homes and interiors.
Tell us about your first job.
When I left university I had to find work quickly to pay off my student debt. I think it was about £200. This was during the days of student grants, so I had simply managed to spend more than the government had given me. Anyway, my first full-time job was as a library assistant in Gants Hill library. It was stress-free but not very challenging and the days tended to drag on. I left after a short while to take up a position at the Press Association in Fleet Street.
Having an eye for design, which place or building do you consider the most impressive?
That is a very hard question because there are so many amazing examples to choose from. So, I’m going to go a little left field and select St Andrews Church, Greensted because it’s the oldest wooden church in the world, and it’s in Essex! Timber planks still in place on the building date from 1060 but excavations have revealed earlier structures from the 6th and 7th century. It’s pretty impressive that baptisms, weddings and funerals have been taking place in Greensted Church for almost 1,000 years. http://www.greenstedchurch.org.uk
And finally, do you have any tips for those seeking to get onto the editorial ladder?
Try to get work experience on a good brand in a sector of the market that you’re interested in. Make a good impression and gather contacts while you’re working in-house, which you can follow up on when your work experience has finished. Ensure you’re up to speed on all aspects of digital publishing and social media. It can be a good idea to publish a blog that you update regularly, both to give you experience of writing to an audience and to show that you’re active in your interest in publishing.
Images: Karen Stylianides, Grand Designs Magazine, Grand Designs Live at the NEC, where Karen interviewed Grand Designers from the TV Show, Kevin McCloud opens the show in Birmingham.