WHO: Anicka Quin, editor-in-chief, Western Living
WENT TO SCHOOL AT: The University of Guelph, where she got her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science; and Simon Fraser University, where she got her Master of Publishing
FIST MAGAZINE JOB: Circulation manager, id Magazine in Guelph, Ont.
SUBSCRIBES TO: Bon Appétit, The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, Toronto Life, Fashion, Chatelaine
INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT: Past president of the BC Association of Magazine Publishers (now Magazine Association of BC); sits on the professional development committees of both MagsBC and Magazines Canada; regional board member for the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors; on the publishing advisory committee for Langara College.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU, ANICKA?
I’m actually a closet scientist. I’d always planned to be an outdoor education instructor, so I did my undergrad in environmental science. But I was also a big music buff and started volunteering at the student newspaper so that I could meet the bands I was obsessive about, and got hooked in the process. I finished my degree, but took a left turn into publishing immediately afterward. (I also credit my background with my eagle eye for “greenwashing” – products that claim to be “good for the earth” but nothing more than PR spin.)
SO ANICKA, TELL US...
WHAT MAKES A GOOD EDITOR?
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given is to sit on your hands the first time you read a piece – there’s a temptation to edit as you go, to save time and mark up a text. But you don’t always see where a writer is going when you start out, and I like to work with writers in a way that preserves their voice, not to create some uniform language for the magazine. A good editor understands how to bring out the best piece from the writer – it’s a supportive relationship.
FAVOURITE PART OF BEING AN EDITOR?
Working with creative people. I’m forever grateful to be inspired by the people around me – and for my job at Western Living, that means both my team of editors and art directors, as well as the designers whose homes we profile. It’s one of those rare fields where everyone actually loves what they do, and that’s a pretty great place to work.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EDITORS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS?
Every experience is a beneficial one when you’re starting out. I’ve been a circulation manager, a production intern, I even sold classifieds when I first got into the business. It all gave me a big-picture understanding of how the business works, and I learned all kinds of skills I wouldn’t have gathered otherwise: layout and design, budgeting, even working with difficult clients (which, when you’re interviewing someone as a journalist, is only a good thing). And most importantly, it got my foot in the door; I eventually became the editor of the magazine where I held the circulation job.
MOST MEMORABLE EDITING MOMENT?
When I worked at id Magazine, a now-defunct weekly out of Guelph, Ont., we frequently pulled all-nighters to get the magazine out every week (we’d spell each other off, napping on the floor while waiting for our ancient printer to spit out proofs). The staff quickly became an extended family – we even took summer weekends away together. There’s something about the “in the trenches” mentality of small staffs, long hours and tiny budgets that really brings people together in a wonderful way. I’m still in touch with most of them, though it’s been a good 14 years since we worked together.
WHAT MAGAZINE DO YOU THINK IS DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB RIGHT NOW?
I’m a little obsessed with Bon Appétit magazine, particularly since Adam Rapoport has come on board. He’s made it even smarter, with great reads alongside gorgeous photography and recipes I want to make as soon as it’s in my hands. I sit down with a pad of Post-its and mark the magazine up as soon as it comes in the door.
I also really love The New York Times Magazine’s redesign (though I miss Randy Cohen as The Ethicist). They’re so clever at mixing lighter fare with serious journalism – and the art direction has really stepped up in the last year. It's one of those magazines where I literally read every article.
WHERE TO FIND ANICKA ONLINE:
Western Living website: Westernliving.ca
Blog (personal): Cardamom Pod
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.