At Work With: Adrian Craddock, Smith Journal
While in London, editor/producer Adrian Craddock helped develop Monocle24’s programme about magazines, The Stack. Now back in Australia, he was recently appointed editor of Smith Journal, the Melbourne-based men’s counterpart to women’s title frankie. We look ahead at his week as his first edition of Smith Journal is published.
Where are you today?
I’m working from Smith Journal’s Melbourne HQ, which is shared with our sister publication frankie. We’re actually right on the cusp of a relocation at the moment; both titles (and their staffs) have grown so quickly that it has started to feel a little cramped in our current space. The move should happen in the new year. In the meantime, it’s lucky that we all get on so well.
I share an office with frankie’s editor Jo Walker. I’m too embarrassed to tell her this in person, but I have always had so much respect for how she has helped steer frankie over the years. So, it’s actually rather thrilling to have my back pointing towards her every day.
As for my workspace, I try (usually unsuccessfully) to keep it ordered. It’s an old student desk from the 1960s and has a big map of the world laminated onto the top. I momentarily forgot this during a recent trip to Sydney when I purchased a big map of Australia with the specific intent of hanging it on my wall at work. Once I put it up, my corner looked like a war room and everyone began thinking that I had this unbridled obsession with geographical charts. I can assure you that I don’t.
What can you see from the window?
I look over a leafy backstreet in Port Melbourne (a bay side suburb of Melbourne). I’ve only been at Smith Journal for around two months, but have already become accustomed to the rhythms of the street. I always exchange friendly glances with the businessmen rushing towards the city in the morning and have developed a close relationship with the local baker (the only one who knows the full extent of my cannoli habit). My favourite part of the view is probably the massive German shepherd that passes by every day with a gnarled traffic cone in its gob. I admire its commitment.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Much to my girlfriend’s chagrin, I am a (late) evening person. I’m often clattering around with a notebook while she’s trying to sleep.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Perhaps I am biased, but I’d have to say volume 13 of Smith Journal, which comes out in Australia today and should be available on foreign shores not long after. It’s got a lot of rich and rewarding writing. My favourite piece is probably one about Australia’s professional putt putt golf scene. It features a guy who set the world record for sinking the highest number of hole-in-ones over a 24 hour period. He shot over 1500 before his legs gave way.
Aside from that, I have a lot of time for Lucky Peach. Both its writing and design are genuinely exciting. I love its irreverent tone and use of colour.
Barely a week goes by without a new magazine from Australia arriving in the post. What's going on down there – is there an indie mag shop on every corner?
I wish that was the case. There are a few independent mag shops throughout Melbourne, but most niche publications still rely heavily on normal newsagents to get their product to market.
I would put the number of great smaller magazines in Australian down to two main factors. The first is that media ownership is extremely concentrated within the country. This means that there can be a lot of homogenisation between mainstream outlets. For this reason, the Australian public is often extra receptive to publications that break the mould.
The second factor, I believe, relates to the traits of Australia’s creative community. It has always been very outward looking and willing to cherry pick the best ideas from around the globe with the intention of turning them into something fresh.
Who/what is ‘Smith’?
Smith doesn’t refer to a person, but rather the combining form that is attached to those who are masters at what they do (i.e. a blacksmith or a wordsmith). It’s an appropriate name considering the subjects and readers of the magazine.
Our audience is super diverse and hard to pin down with an age demographic. For example, my grandma loves the magazine, but so do middle-aged scientists, young creative types and tradesmen. The thing that they all have in common is that they have curious minds and an appetite for adventure.
As I alluded to, our magazine is definitely less gender-specific than frankie. Though there are some similarities, namely that we never talk down to our readers. Like frankie, Smith Journal is also very inclusive; the aim is not to be too cool for school.
As the new editor are you planning to gently adjust Smith Journal or tear it up and start again?
To use an Australian saying, I would have to be as mad as a cut snake to rip up the format and start again. My goal is to maintain and grow Smith Journal’s reputation for intelligent, unexpected stories and strong imagery.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Chatting with readers about volume 13.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
I stupidly agreed to join a friend’s competitive sailing team this weekend. I have no experience and apparently it is going be a pretty serious race. I’m worried I might fall into the ocean and never come out again.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Commissioning for volume 14. And perhaps researching swimming lessons.