Interview: S Magazine Lifestyle Editor Victoria Gray
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Victoria Gray has been working on the Sunday Express's weekly fashion and lifestyle magazine, S, for the last 13 years, in charge of the interior spread, recipes pages and her feature of Victoria Gray’s Best..., showcasing her favourite interior items of the the week from geometric prints to insect interiors.
The lifestyle editor continues to deliver innovative and inspiring recipe and interior pages, as well as showing us how to incorporate trends into our home in an approachable and stylish way.We caught up with her to discuss where she gets her inspiration from, the not so glamourous side of magazine journalism, and stalking editors on social media. How did you get started in magazine journalism?
I was working for an interior designer and a friend of mine was working at the magazine and offered me some work experience. I assisted a stylist on one of S magazine's christmas shoots (which I’m currently planning at the moment) and it was five days of making the tea, lifting heavy boxes. When I was there, I met the editor of the magazine, we had a chat and I gave her my card and after that one of the girls on the magazine was taking a sabbatical and I was asked if I was interested in covering her leave, which I did, and then I was offered a job three months after that - so not the most traditional way of joining a magazine! What does a typical day involve as lifestyle editor? It’s one of these jobs where there feels like isn’t really an end to each task even though there is, and the way I work, I'm working on lots of different things at the same time. I get into the office at 10 and it's 20 minutes of skimming through emails and answering anything urgent. Then lots of the time it will be organising photoshoots, organising locations, working with my home economist, making sure they have the recipes we’re shooting. There are lots of different sides to it - researching trends for my interior pages, writing the captions for those, commissioning the garden pages, writing up shopping, really focusing on the trends, so it's a very varied day! I fantasise about having a job where you have one task to do and you finish that task and you have a clear desk and you go home and that's done and you do the same everyday. But it doesn't happen and I think that's why I love what I do, because it's always so varied. Aside from the variety, what do you love most about your job? Definitely the creativity! Every feature has to be oked by the editor, so you have to present your feature ideas to the editor in a way that your editor can visualise what you want to do. The thing that still really excites me about the job is having the creativity, from having the idea for the interior shoot, then working on that to turn it into something that is seen in print... organising the products for the photographs, styling and organising the logistics, just makes it really exciting and it's lovely to see your mood boards come to life. I still get a real buzz for that, even though I've been doing it for 13 years, when I look in the magazine at the weekend I think, “Oh I really loved that shoot.” I feel quite lucky that I still get to feel that way. Is it always as glamorous as it looks? No never, never ever. My favourite part of the job is the photoshoot. Even though it can sound quite glamourous going off to a beautiful location to shoot something amazing, it invariably involves unpacking, packing up boxes, wrapping things up in bubble wrap, lifting heavy lumps of furniture, on your hands and knees. It's never a case of swanning in and pointing at a few things; it's really rolling your sleeves up. I feel a photoshoot is like moving house in a day, so it's sadly never quite as glamourous as it sounds, although it does occasionally have its moments!
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What advice would you give to young people wanting to get involved in magazine journalism?My first piece of advice would be to find a person you want to speak to, so if it's the lifestyle editor try and get their contact details. Then a well thought out email showing you read the publication follow them and stalk them on Instagram and Twitter; they're a really great platform. I had someone contact me through Instagram asking if they could come and do some work experience - the message they’d sent showed they knew the publication, (and) that's what appeals. Sometimes I've had emails, asking if I do interiors in the magazine. It’s lovely to have emails and compliments, saying “I loved your such and such page”, it's lovely to hear someone specifically liked one of the items. Make sure you speak to the right person, don't be afraid to ask for work experience or even just to meet, as it’s an industry that, once you're in it, is quite small. It's always worth an ask; try and get as much experience as possible within that industry.