Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Cherie Federico is Managing Director and Editor of Aesthetica, an international art and culture magazine that addresses art within its broader cultural context. Here she talks about her career path and offers some tips on how to make it in arts journalism. 

"As a kid I always wanted to be a photojournalist working for National Geographic magazine. I did a BA in English Literature and French in New York which is where I'm originally from. I got involved with the student paper, writing for the arts section. I came to the UK eight years ago to do a master's in critical studies at the University of York. During this time I set up the publication as a bit of fun.  

After I graduated from my master's I did a postgraduate teaching qualification in English, also at York. I carried on doing the magazine as a hobby. After one year of teaching I decided to quit and do the magazine full-time. I was 25 and I figured 'what's the worst that can happen?' I'm 31 now so you can see how that worked out! I haven't ever looked back.

I put my success with Aesthetica down to having a vision and a dream. People tend to think small and feel inhibited by themselves. I think big. We distribute the magazine across the UK and in 17 countries globally. There's no secret. It's about planning, hard work and positive risk-taking. You have to be resilient and believe in what you're doing. Don't be afraid of taking decisions. Since I've been doing this lots of other magazines have come and gone. You can't let criticism consume you; you have to keep going."

Cherie's top tips for aspiring journalists 

"Pick your subject and read everything you can get your hands on. Too many writers these days lack external knowledge and only do the bare minimum when it comes to research. There's too much Googling going on. This makes for lazy writing which lacks context." 

"Start a blog." 

"Do work experience but don't expect to be doing any writing. Lots of people come to do placements with us. Occasionally they might get the chance to write a blog post or CD review but they need to realise that we have professional writers doing that for us. Even if you're just making tea, it's about soaking up the atmosphere, having the opportunity to ask people questions and hopefully getting a good reference. That goes a long way in this industry." 

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