MEET ANNIE SEBEL, EDITOR OF YEN MAGAZINE

The annual Creative Issue of Yen magazine inspires sourcing and collecting and takes us into the hearts and minds of artists and makers. It’s an issue to spend time with, to dream over, to read rather than skim. We talk to savvy editor Annie Sebel about what it’s like to be at the helm of this creative contemporary magazine. What’s her take on the yin and yang of Yen?

Sydney-sider, music lover, writer and self confessed salt and vinegar fiend (thanks Instagram) Annie Sebel has been the Editor of Yen for over five years. She’s one of small team of just four permanent staff, supplemented by regular freelance contractors. “It IS small, it’s the smallest team I’ve worked in,” Sebel says. “There just isn’t a typical day! It depends what production stage we are at, it’s a mix of everything.”

A mix of everything is an apt description of the mag itself. A look through the current issue reveals fashion, beauty, food, travel, interiors, art, music, film books and entertainment. There are profiles on artist & apprentice sushi maker Oona Tempest and boat crafter Elize Cameron-Smith, a story on embroidery “Men Who Stitch”, interviews with musos Pip Brown, Alison Mosshart and Jake Bugg. With its engaging conversational tone, cool sense of humour, high quality writing, photography, design and production, Yen sits somewhere between the hipster indie magazines like Frankie and the fashion glossies like Elle and Vogue. Issues are generally themed (a Fashion Issue, a Photo Issue) and Yen pairs up with a key event each year too. In 2015 they partnered with the Emerging Writers Festival. Later this year there’s a music festival partnership (details yet to be confirmed and released). Readers are relatively young -18 to 35 with an average age of 22 - or young at heart.

Maybe if you fall in love with magazines at a certain age you’re hooked for life?

“When I was a teenager, I was magazine obsessed!” says Annie Sebel. “I had an unhealthy obsession with The Face, I thought it was the coolest magazine ever. (Well, it probably was, at the time – note by The Eye. Good choice Annie.) “But I’d also go to the library and read things like The Economist. Every magazine was interesting to me.”

Sebel went on to study media at Uni. She specialised in film editing. But – she loved people, meeting people, interacting, communicating with people, getting to know new people, hearing their stories … did she really want to spend her time mostly alone in an editing suite? She made a switch, taking writing & editing courses at Sydney’s UTS and doing “a whole lot of interning” to get up to speed.

“I spent 1 ½ years working at writing and interning (at places like Harpers Bazaar) and I applied for heaps and heaps of jobs and then I finally got an entry level editorial assistant job at publisher Emap working on Smash Hits which was a dream come true! and Empire, a movie magazine and Kerrang! a heavy metal mag.”

“Everyone was super friendly, it was lots of fun and in my first week – because some big target got met – we all got on a seaplane to Berowra Waters for lunch and I thought, WOW!”

These days, it’s not all seaplanes and extravagant lunches. (Ahem.) Any given day might involve a range of tasks and challenges from budgets and administration and social media, to interviews and writing stories. The mag holds an art prize every year – the STAEDLER Yen Female Art Awards, open to young emerging artists, a project close to Sebel’s heart. “I get to meet so many passionate and creative individuals,” she says. “Every day I am getting inspiration. The people I meet – that’s the highlight of the job.”

Subscribers are crucial to Yen. “We love them, they are our most dedicated readers,” says Sebel. “Yen is a smart magazine for creative people who want to be inspired and learn. We do have a classic mix of lifestyle, but it’s weighted towards arty people. There’s a different spin.”

The Eye agrees. Yen is a curiously interesting, welcoming magazine with real fashion, classy photography, clever writing and curatorial insight into what’s cool, contemporary and creative. Buy it, subscribe to it, keep it and collect it. Give it as a present to your daughter or your best friend. Gift it to yourself. It’s a coffee-table-worthy, carry-around-able lovely thing. (It’s only out bi-monthly so keep current by checking the website for a lighter take on events and trends.) Thanks for the chat Annie Sebel. Keep the faith.

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