NYLON is an independently-published American magazine about pop culture, fashion and lifestyle which has a loyal following across the world. Luke Crisell is its Executive Editor, but he started out as an intern after leaving his Dorset village and jetting across the Atlantic to NYLON’s SoHo offices. Luke’s transition from a Chelsea hostel-residing intern to film star-interviewing editor sounds like a fairy tale, but it was not one completed without hard work, lessons learnt and a big, big love of NYLON.
So where did it all start?
I studied Philosophy and English Lit at Southampton and I started doing an MA there too, but I realised it wasn’t really for me. I left and ended up being the managing of a skateboarding store and I started to buy magazines. I had always loved magazines, I.D, Dazed and Confused and NYLON, Vogue and Wallpaper and I’d have them all lined up at home and I started to realise that maybe there was something in magazines that I could be writing. I found this website for London College of Fashion which was bright pink and I was really drawn in by it and ended up doing a three month PG Cert course in Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism. While I was there I made a magazine supplement called London for NYLON magazine. I interviewed Boudicca and Robert Cary-Williams and I loved it, it was amazing. I made a contact through an internship with Wallpaper, helping out on a 45 page fashion shoot in some crazy old house. What it amounted to was picking up stuff off the floor from this freezing cold house from 6am until really late at night and just being a part of this really huge production. I fell in love with the industry, it was just so ridiculous in so many ways and it was so great to see inside of it. It was only a few days but one of the editors on the shoot put me in touch with the NYLON Fashion Features Editor and I ended up being invited to do an internship. So I did. After three months I had to go home, but I came back again and they ended up just saying, “you can stay”. I started out being the Editorial Assistant.
What was it like when you first arrived in New York?
It was in the middle of a blizzard and I was in this hostel in Chelsea with a load of other guys and I had the same backpack I had for my DOE. I didn’t get paid, because I couldn’t by law, and I just stayed out here. I was like, “holy s***, I’m working at a fashion magazine and I haven’t got anything to wear!” One day I got chatting to a girl while I was printing something out, and she offered me a futon to stay on.
NYLON was the magazine I read and loved and I knew every writer’s name and every editor’s name and I knew what they wrote and when I came into the office I was star struck. It was as if your favourite movie was Love, Actually and you went to a party where they were all there. Every day. I was getting writing advice from the people whose writing had got me into magazines. It doesn’t get better than that. For me it was a really natural place to be. Back then the office was this open-plan loft, it was like something out of a Warhol movie and it was amazing.
How did you make such a good impression?
I’d really try to make myself available all the while doing anything and everything anybody asked me to. At NYLON you rarely get asked to get a coffee or pick up someone’s dry cleaning. I think that’s great, because I gather that at other magazines it can be like, ‘go and get this, do this’. But an internship is what you make of it. I don’t care that much if someone’s lazy but it doesn’t make sense. Like, why are you here? I interned here, Mallory, our Associate Editor, interned here, we’ve just hired an Editorial Assistant who interned here. You make it what you want it to be. You don’t get to just sit back – if you don’t do all the little jobs, why would anybody notice you? Nobody’s going to be like, ‘oh that person did that for me, let me do this for them’.
I was working for the fashion news editor the most and I would be constantly pitching. I’d say, “there’s this Norwegian designer” and I would write up a little profile. One night there was an Australian actress who was meant to be interviewed but a writer had fallen through and it was late at night because it was a phone interview to Sydney. I said, ‘I’ll stay, I’ll do it, I’ll do it’ and I did it and I tried so hard to make it perfect and I still remember seeing that stuff in print and I was like, I can’t believe this is happening, I can’t believe that my name is in the magazine. Even when I was just printed in the intern list I was like, ‘holy s***’.
The way we do the editing here all the past comments and remarks sit on print outs on racks. So when I wrote a piece, I’d stay behind after all the editors and interns had left and read through them and make notes. So if one of the editors had written, “this lead is too passive’, I’d note to change adjectives. I’d learn from it as much as I possibly could, I was hungry about it.
What’s special about an internship at NYLON?
People always ask why NYLON is different from other magazines, and I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been at any other magazines, but from what I gather by talking to other interns here and my colleagues: whatever experience you can get is great, but I’d really recommend interning at a small, independent publication. Somewhere where you can really be up close and personal with the editors. If you intern at Vogue I imagine your experience is very different from being an intern at NYLON, not saying that it’s better or worse, but it will be a different experience. If you can do more than one then great, but I’d definitely recommend going somewhere which really means a lot to you.
Furthermore, our interns are fact checking, they’re researching, they’re writing here and there, they’re pitching stories. I always tell our editors to be really open to pitches. There should be a dialogue and a conversation. I don’t like it to be a hierarchy where if you’re an intern you’re not to speak to an editor above a certain level – you should be able to speak to anyone.
What traits do you recognise in good interns?
I think you really have to learn the line. You have to be confident but not arrogant. You really have to be confident, you can’t just sit back and be meek, but you shouldn’t answer back. It’s finding that line. You don’t have to be anyone’s best friend, but it’s about working hard. You should be the first one in and the last one out, is what I’d say. It’s always my policy and I try to be like that as much as possible now.
What I always say is intern somewhere you like. Because if you’re interning at Field and Stream or Town and Country and you’re like an active PETA member you’re not going to get on that well and you’re not going to be able to put your heart and soul into it.
How would you advise people to get internships?
What is so strange to me now, and I see why people do it, but people always say how hard it is to get an internship at NYLON. And it is in some ways, but in other ways, it’s not. I’m not going to publish my email address but if you want to get my email address, how hard is it really going to be? If you want an internship at NYLON and there’s someone there whose writing you like, or who you want to meet, you can find out their email address if you want it. You can call the front desk, ask for them. If they ask who you are say you’re a publisher or something, a little white lie perhaps, but how hard is it to get in touch with someone? I’ll either be like, “go away, I’m busy” or I’ll say “sure, drop me a line.” What have you lost if someone says “go away?” They probably wouldn’t say that anyway. Everybody has an email address. Figure it out, figure out a way to get in touch. Write them a letter. It will get through eventually. What have you lost by asking? It applies to everything. Everyone says you have to know someone but if you really like something that somebody’s written then that will mean a lot if you can write to them and tell them you liked it. Start a dialogue, don’t just imagine a dialogue in your head that will never happen. You’ve got to try.
And what about interning abroad?
What I like about America is that it’s just five hours away. If you want to go to Glasgow you could get there in the same time. People think New York is so far away but it’s really not and three months time is enough to give you a really good experience of living somewhere – you can get a lot from that place in that amount of time. It really is just about getting on a plane.
What is the best part of your job?
I still get a kick out of writing. I love editing and working with a writer, trying to make it the best it can be, but I also just really love writing. The issue we just put to bed I wrote for the beauty section and the film section and did an interview with Rodarte. Being able to write about entertainment, film, beauty, fashion all in one issue – I love that. I love words. I’m in this business for words to begin with and that’s what I love doing. That’s the number one good thing about it. Then there are other things that are much more superficial like the travelling and the meeting lots of different people. You think of these people as being out of our reach, like, it’s amazing to actually have conversations with people who it’s unbelievable to be interviewing. I just interviewed Catherine Opie, someone whose books I have collected on my shelf. That’s amazing and it never gets old, ever.
Would you change anything about how you’ve got your career?
No. There’s nothing I would change. I tell myself everyday that I’m so lucky. I look forward to coming to work every day. I never have to drag myself out of bed, I work for the magazine I love, it’s just amazing. I’ve worked in every editorial position and I’ve tried to make NYLON evolve without affecting its core. I wouldn’t change anything. All I ever wanted to do was work at NYLON, and now I’m here.
Have you considered interning? How have you gone about finding your internship? Would you intern abroad?
- The Wannabe Hacks nominate their best journalism placement for our top 50 Wannabe Hacks have launched their quest to find the top...
- Tips on how to get out of the internship cycle and into your dream job. Since my last post fellow Wannabe Hacks may think that I...
- Stacey Siebritz: What I learnt from a day in my dream job at Stylist Stacey Siebritz is an English graduate with a postgraduate diploma...
- How to make interning for free possible With the current debate raging over whether interning for free...
- What to wear on work experience | The girl edition Deciding what to wear on work experience is often very...
After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look