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At Work With: Tyler Brule, Monocle
At work with

At Work With: Tyler Brule, Monocle

Canadian-born journalist Tyler Brûlé first came to prominence in 1996 as the founder of Wallpaper* magazine. He sold the magazine to Time Warner a year later, staying as editorial director until 2002 when he left to build design/branding agency Winkreative. In 2007 he launched his second magazine, Monocle, which has just published its 67th edition and remains independent. The company also publishes a biannual newspaper and broadcasts 24-hour radio from its London HQ.

Where are you today?
I’m happily back at base in London. Last week was a bit of an exhausting dash south to north in Asia – Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo in six days.

What can you see from the window?
I can see Paddington Gardens becoming a little less green as the leaves zig-zag to the ground.

How many emails are waiting in your inbox?
Very few. I used last week to repsond to every outstanding e-mail from the last six weeks. I’m feeling much lighter as a result.

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Today I’m in love with the new issue of Popeye (picked up in Tokyo). It’s theme is ‘how to become a man’ and its brilliantly executed. A close runner up is a recent issue of Brutus devoted to perfect, cosy villages.

Which magazine first made you stop and think ‘That’s what I want to do’?
I’d say a combo of New York and Stern – in the early 80s. New York because it captured a real sense of place (remember I grew up north of the border in Canada) and Stern because it was graphic, explicit and took me around the world.

Despite some skepticism at the time of its launch in 2007, Monocle seems to be stronger than ever today. What do you attribute this success to?

Is it too obvious to say bloody hard work? It’s been a combination of a dedicated team who all know what the business stands for and a focus on sticking to projects we know our readers will like and will also make money. Being out there (we always expand our travel budget rather than cut it) has also been key as it’s allowed us to find better stories, grow newsstand, meet our readers and win new advertising clients.

What advice would you offer anyone planning to launch their own magazine?
If you’re not dipping into your own trust fund then find investors who love magazines and view themselves as consumers – not oracles of the future of media. If, at any moment, you get a sense that potential partners want to see you do something beyond your core business at launch, then they’re probably not right. I also wouldn’t waste money on hiring star names. But I would pay people. I think it’s important to launch with a proper business model not built on calling in too many favours.

What was the last thing your art director said to you?
‘Illustrated or photo for the Dec/Jan. issue chief?’ I told him let’s try both and we’ll see what we like on the day.

What are you most looking forward to this week?
In no specific order our book signing at McNally Jackson in New York on Thursday, our house party and signing session at our Toronto bureau on Saturday, speaking at your lovely event on Wednesday and just being in the office and prepping for what’s likely to be our biggest issue ever.

What are you least looking forward to this week?
Immigration at JFK.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Wandering down through our building for catch-ups and then down to our café for my second flat white of the morning.

Tyler is one of the keynote speakers at this week’s The Modern Magazine conference, Wednesday October 16, London. Final tickets available here.

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