A Day in the Life - Q&A with our latest award winners
09 Oct 2018
We are incredibly proud to have won five awards at the prestigious Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards in New York yesterday.
We caught up with Editor-in-Chief Ellen Carpenter (Editor of the Year) and Senior Designer Mary Watson (Designer of the Year), to find out what makes them tick, and what they love about working at Ink.
First off, tell us about your jobs:
Ellen: I’m the editor in chief of Hemispheres, United Airlines’ inflight magazine, and I recently became the editorial director of The National, which we produce for Amtrak. It’s a pretty sweet gig. I get to do everything I love: write, edit, collaborate with smart people, solve problems and, of course, travel.
Mary: I’m the Senior Designer of b.inspired magazine for Brussels Airlines, so I help plan the visuals for each issue - design layouts and commission photographers and illustrators.
How did you both end up doing what you do?
Mary: I studied graphic design at university, and developed a liking for layout design. It’s a bit nerdy to say, but I genuinely love magazines, there are so many talented people creating visually exciting content – I find it quite inspiring! And so, leaving university it was an easy decision to follow a career in to editorial design. I started at a regional mag in the North East of England (where I’m from), then made the move to London and joined Ink.
Ellen: I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was 11 years old and started working on my middle school paper in Murray, Kentucky. When I was 14, I set my sights on being a theatre critic for The New York Times. That didn’t happen, but I have written for The New York Times, so I feel like I basically achieved that goal! I studied journalism at Northwestern University and then interned at New York magazine, where I was hired as a full-time freelance fact-checker after I graduated. After that I spent six years working at music magazines - Spin, Blender, Rolling Stone - before joining Nylon as deputy editor. Finally, I had a stint creating a magazine for a fashion brand, and then I joined Ink.
What have been your most memorable moments working for Ink?
Ellen: That’s tough. Interviewing Helen Mirren in the Hollywood Hills was pretty fantastic, as was chatting with Sarah Jessica Parker in Marlene Dietrich’s old house. Oh, and cruising along the Amalfi Coast and flying over the Island of Hawaii in a helicopter weren’t too shabby.
Mary: This year has been pretty amazing – I’ve been sent to Singapore, Tenerife, France and now New York. This win is up there for me, it was my first ever nomination and I got to come to New York (my first visit too!), I feel very lucky.
What’s the best thing about your jobs?
Mary: I love seeing an idea come to fruition, from the planning stage, through to commissioning and finally laying it out. I also love my team! They’re talented, supportive and just generally fun to be around.
Ellen: Agreed! As great as the travel perks are, I have to say it’s the people that make the job. I’ve been making magazines for 16 years and I’ve never worked with such an awesome team.
Besides the whole being smart and talented thing, all the folks in Ink’s New York office love what they do and really care about each and every story we produce. That’s key. Also, they’re just a fun bunch of people (have you seen the bar in our office?); I genuinely look forward to going to work every day.
Describe a typical day for you at Ink:
Ellen: Gosh, every day is different. I might spend one day editing and writing. Another I might be helping a writer set up a Three Perfect Days cover story (so much planning). And still another I might be figuring out flat plans and researching photos with the art team. Add to that meetings with publicists, writers, the ad team, and, of course, our great clients, United and Amtrak. You know what I did before answering these questions this morning? Researched country hams for our regional foods holiday gift guide. (You’ll have to wait and see which one we picked!)
Mary: Day-to-day tasks can vary quite a bit! I could be planning future issues, coming up with concepts for our covers or features, commissioning photographers or illustrators, or designing pages for the magazine – the variation keeps it interesting!
What are your favourite projects from the past year?
Mary’s top three:
- We ran a feature about the growing trend of people becoming mermaids in Belgium. Me and my team had a lesson in the practice with a mermaid – and then me and photographer, Tim White, went to Ghent to photograph 3 mermaids having some downtime in the city. I think the photographs looked really fun – and the cover to go with the feature, a CGI illustration by Peter Crowther, looked fantastic.
- I loved our weird fitness in NYC piece (which included goat yoga and juggle fit), we commissioned one of my favourite illustrators, Rami Niemi, for the feature, I’d wanted to get his work in the magazine for ages, and he absolutely smashed it!
- Our chimpanzee refuge feature, focused on Tacugama Chimpanzee Sancutary, Sierra Leone’s leading wildlife conservation centre, was a lovely story and, shot by Freya Dowson, was absolutely beautiful, there were quite a few ‘wow’ moments when looking through the photo set, and I was very hard to narrow them down for the feature (always a good problem to have)!
Ellen’s top four:
- We did a full redesign of Hemispheres magazine in the last year, which I’m super proud of. It truly celebrates every facet of travel. I think I’m most excited about our new cover direction. When Design Director Rickard Westin and I started working on it last year, we focused on achieving a feeling; we wanted the cover images to inspire readers and make them immediately imagine themselves right there, in that city, as soon as they picked up the magazine. And I think we achieved that. My faves this year are our Munich cover and our Quito cover.
- I was also super-psyched to interview the actor Sterling K. Brown for the Hemi Q&A. I’m beyond obsessed with This Is Us, and he was even funnier and more charming than I hoped he would be.
- Interviewing Keri Russell was also rewarding (who didn’t love Felicity?!) and I enjoyed collaborating with design director Christos Hannides and the amazing photographer Jason Bell on the shoot.]
- Oh, and filming the first Hemispheres Travel Show in Dumbo last year was a whirlwind and a total blast. I never thought I’d become a TV host…
The Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards were fantastic! Ellen, you won Editor of the Year and Mary you won Designer of the Year. Congrats! What did you enjoy about it?
Ellen: This year they upped the ante with cocktails and dinner and they requested we wear “cocktail attire”. Fancy. I enjoyed mingling and meeting other magazine folks!
Mary: As I say, this was my first awards ceremony – so I was excited about everything!
Where are you next on your travels?
Mary: I have no immediate plans – but am planning a big trip to Canada next year to visit some friends who have recently moved. My husband and I, and a few friends are going to come via New York, then fly to Vancouver – I can’t wait!
Ellen: Next month I’m reporting my first-ever Three Perfect Days cover story (!) in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve always wanted to go there - mostly to eat - so I’m pretty pumped. I just booked my hotels and, oh man, it’s gonna be good…