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Tom Hislop, global creative director, Time Out
At work with

Tom Hislop, global creative director, Time Out

Today we’re in New York with Tom Hislop, Time Out’s global creative director discussing the magazine’s international approach as it marks its 50th birthday with a book and London exhibition.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
It’s a pretty standard commute! I catch the subway, usually with a coffee in-hand that I made at home, and like to read the news, then a book or listen to a podcast if I can get through the main headlines. I catch the M train which is pretty slow, but the one saving grace is that I get a view of the Manhattan skyline every morning as it goes over Williamsburg Bridge.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
The office is on the 42nd floor of Times Square in New York, so I have lovely views looking out north towards Central Park. At the start of the week the desk is organised and well-maintained, but as the week goes on and the work piles up it gets a bit messy with magazine proofs and multiple to-do list post-it notes...

Which magazine do you first remember?
When I was a kid I used to read Hyper, an Australian computer gaming magazine, which helped me curate my sacred Nintendo 64 game collection.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Great question… there are simply too many! I always look to magazines to get inspired and learn something new, so can’t go past the Smith Journal, Wired, and National Geographic.

Time Out London: Winston Churchill (1974) by Pearce Marchbank, photograph by Roger Perry

Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Inspiring, entertaining, and practical.

Time Out London: Our City (2005)

Describe a typical day – are you simply overseeing local teams from around the world, or do you still have time to design yourself?
I’m lucky in my role that not only do I work with a global team of creatives, but I also get to do plenty of design work, on multiple platforms, for numerous verticals in the company.

A typical day for me would include proofing draft pages for the magazine, coming up with cover concepts for future issues, creating collateral for events, working with the Creative Solution teams on pitches and mockups for advertising clients, developing creative for global content strategies and rolling them out, and much more. Every day is different!

Time Out New York: Hidden New York (2016) by Ashleigh Bowring

Do the different editions have different design approaches or is your role to make sure they all stay aligned?
Global alignment of all Time Out magazines and websites is key to my role, and it is paramount that if a reader picks up a magazine in any city or visits our websites - whether it’s Barcelona, Lisbon, London, New York, or Sydney - that the content, look, and feel of the product is similar.

Luckily, Time Out globally has a talented group of art directors working locally in many cities, which helps to make my job a lot easier. And although Time Out turns 50 this year and obviously has the biggest following in London where it first started, I like to think that we have many hearts across the globe, and each product is treated with just as much care and consideration.

Today, Time Out is present in 108 cities in 39 countries (most of these are owned and operated, some are franchise partners); we have magazines in around 40 of these cities, our magazines have 7.4 million monthly readers and we have an average of 22.6 million monthly unique visitors on our websites. That's quite a lot of people that we help make the most of the city!

Time Out London, issue one (1968)

How has the shift from paid-for to free distribution affected your role at Time Out?
From a design perspective, we treat the magazine with just as much care... if not more. The target audience is the most important thing to take into consideration when working on a cover direction (and treatment for the entire audience), and since the circulation number increased massively with free distribution, we needed to be more considerate of the larger, broader demographic that are reading the magazine.

Because distribution points are focused heavily around public transport networks, we try to keep the design work bright, colourful and eye-catching, with plenty of entry points, so that the reader can get as much information as possible on their commute.

What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
The work highlight for me definitely is the launch of our ‘Time Out 50: 50 Years, 50 Covers’ exhibition and book. To coincide with the brand’s 50th birthday, we’ve curated an exhibition and a book of the best 50 covers of Time Out and the stories behind them (you can go and check out the exhibition at the Museum of Brands in London until March 2019 and the book is available through our website).

I worked very closely on the design of the exhibition with the team in London, producing the visuals for the vinyl, as well as planning where all the framed magazine covers will sit on the wall. Although I wasn’t able to attend the launch party las week, it was awesome to see photos of the exhibition in situ and receive plenty of positive feedback from the people who attended.

What will you be doing after this chat?
This is the busiest day of the week for us! Not only are we in the process of sending the final pages and covers of some of our magazines to print (for Time Out New York and Time Out London), I’m also working on event collateral for a huge party Time Out is throwing in Granary Square, King's Cross in London on 29 September.

To celebrate our 50th birthday, we're celebrating the best of the city right now – in one place, on one night. Collateral we're working on includes entrance signage, wayfinding maps, directionals, and a digital marketing campaign to drive sales of tickets which are available on our website.

Twitter: @tomhislop

Archive Time Out covers courtesy of the magazine.

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