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Feb 3, 2011

Talking Heads: David Tickner

As 2011 begins to march its way forward, I decided to take a leap across the pond (not literally) and pick the brain of reFRESH Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, David Tickner about magazines, media, growing trends, and what inspires him.  I've been fortunate to have worked with great photographers who've put me on his radar for submissions and articles, but I wasn't expecting to develop such a witty and oftentimes humorous friendship.  But I'm not the least bit fooled by his sarcasm or playfullness - this gentleman takes journalism seriously and his diligent work ethic shows in the wonderful magazines he publishes, in addition to the fashion-centric, eye-candy found on his blog.  Here's what David had to say...

What is your official title and role at reFRESH magazine? What kind of industry experience do you have?
My official title at the magazine is Editor-in-Chief and I’m responsible for the whole magazine’s content, look and feel. I’ve worked as an editor in publishing for nearly 15 years during which time I’ve edited all sorts of titles – ranging from charity publications to business travel. It’s a terrifically rewarding job and one that allows me the luxury of never having the same day twice – there’s always something new going on!!

Tell me a little bit about your magazine and online blog...
Well the magazine is produced as an upmarket ‘coffee table’ style gay lifestyle magazine covering a wider range of subject areas than some other titles. The blog site has evolved over time to sit alongside the magazine and provides us with an opportunity to upload news stories, images and features more immediately – so if there was something more time sensitive we could put it on the website straight away. The power of blogs is something that has grown in importance within the last 5 years particularly and it has now become an essential element for any magazine to participate in.

Who is your audience? Please explain...
Well obviously we have readers that cover a whole range of different ages from early teens to past eighty – but our core demographic is really the 25plus age bracket – gay men who are looking for something a bit more reflective of their lifestyle. These are the guys who can still enjoy a good night out or party, but who are not necessarily out clubbing on the scene every night. They enjoy regular travel and spending more time and money on their apartment or home. Our editorial strand is aimed at them and offers a range of content that connects with them.

How long have you been a part of reFRESH? Provide some highlights and memorable moments...
Well this one is quite easy, as I’ve been with reFRESH since the very first planning meeting. It was my concept and idea from the beginning. I was working as an editor-in-chief of a largish contract publishing company back in 2001 and sat on the management team. We regularly brainstormed new business ideas and I’d had an idea for a gay lifestyle magazine in my head for a while. I introduced it to the team and they liked the idea and decided to turn my idea into a reality. Our first issue came out in 2002 and I've been there throughout. Memorable moments are difficult to pin point – as everyday provides something memorable. I think I’d highlight the amazing opportunities the magazine has provided me when it comes to meeting new and interesting people everyday from all over the world!

With growing environmental concerns and pressure, how has the economy affected the print version of reFRESH and how do you plan to keep pace (or surpass) emerging trends towards electronic publications?
Well I’m afraid I’m a traditionalist when it comes to printing – I love reading the blogs and online e-zines but I still like the physicality of buying a printed magazine.  That is something no blog will be able to do.  Of course we've had our ups and downs with advertising (which is the first area to be hit in times of economic crisis) but you've just got to be brave and when necessary tighten your belt and ride out any storm. Regarding the environmental element - all the printers we've worked with have good eco-policies with regards to paper sourcing etc.

What is the best aspect of reFRESH? What can we find in reFRESH that no other competitor has?
Well I think is that is had a good breadth of content. I’m lucky enough to work with some superb writers and photographers, many of whom have been with me since very early on in the magazine’s life. So we offer an alternative perspective on what our competitors cover – our stranding on interiors, travel, food & drink and culture is certainly much stronger than any of the other newsstand gay magazines.

Have you ever been a model or a photographer? What kind of advice do you have for aspiring models and photographers?
Goodness me no!!! I’m not sure that I would have made any career as a model – am strictly a ‘face for radio’ type of guy. That being said throughout my career to date I have worked with many photographers and models and also know, as any editor should, exactly what I’m looking for. I would say to any aspiring model and photographer – never be predictable and always look at how you can do something unexpected. I’ve been supportive of new talent since day 1 as I made a vow when I first became an editor that I would do whatever I can to nurture and assist emerging talent as I remembered how difficult it was for me to get my first break.

Who or what inspires you? 
Well I’m motivated by success – and the need to constantly better each issue. I’ve always said to people, if I ever produce a 100% perfect magazine that would be the time to look for career change. So that is a good personal inspiration. I’m very lucky with my friends and family as well – although many of them don’t work in the business they are a great source of support for me. And if I’m really feeling in need of a pick me up, I slip Devil Wears Prada into my DVD player and that always motivates me!!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Being happy I hope – and working in magazines. I’d like to say still editing reFRESH but you never know what’s around the corner. I’d also like to be happily settled down with a guy living in the countryside with two dogs!

David Tickner, Editor-in-Chief of reFRESH
What trends do you see emerging within the fashion industry today?
I’m not avoiding your question, but rather approaching it from a different angle and would say that the part of the industry that we see and work with is full of some extremely exciting and creative designers who I hope will all make a bigger impact in the years to come – one in particular, Nico Didonna, has been around for a while and deserves far greater credit for his amazingly creative designs and accessories.

Well said, Mr. Tickner!  Thanks for your time! For mor insight on articles and postings, Check out reFRESH Magazine's online blog at

I'll chat with you later, Fresh!  =)

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