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A Day In The Life Of Beth Wilkinson, Founder Of Lindsay Magazine

A Day In The Life

The daily habits of others have long been a source of fascination. Coffee or tea? Morning bird or night owl? The minutiae of peoples’ daily lives can give us so much insight into who they are, how they work and what they’re about.

Today we launch a new monthly column, A Day In The Life, where we track the daily habits of people we admire, for a behind-the-scenes look at how they approach their work and personal lives, and what they’ve learnt about themselves along the way.

For this first feature, we spend the day with Beth Wilkinson, founder and editor (…and photographer and designer) of one of Melbourne’s most exciting and rapidly-growing print publications, Lindsay

12th April, 2019

A Day In The Life with Beth Wilkinson, founder of Lindsay Magazine. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Beth in her Collingwood apartment, where she works from downstairs. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

While Beth’s days are varied, she finds solace in keeping some routines. Having a morning coffee with her partner is something she does every day. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Issue No. 3 of Beth’s publication, Lindsay, sitting in good company alongside beloved magazines and books Beth browses to seek inspration. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Beth edits, designs, and shoots many of the images in each issue of Lindsay. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Thomas the doggy! Beth walks Thomas every morning – after coffee, before work. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Beth shoots many of the subjects and all over the cover stars of Lindsay, Halide Supplyand on this day we went with her to on Peel Street in Collingwood to get some film developed. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Beth inside Halide Supply to drop off a roll of film to be developed. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Beth will often take her meetings at Allpress Espresso, a local Collingwood coffee shop where she recently launched Lindsay Issue No. 3. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sally Tabart
Friday 12th April 2019

‘We are stuck in this mindset that fast is better, that long hours mean more work is achieved, but there are people out there challenging this idea.’ – Beth Wilkinson.

If you’ve been paying attention to independent publishing in Australia over the last 12 months, chances are you’ve probably heard of Beth Wilkinson. You might know her as Lindsay, which is not her name, but the one that belongs to her grandfather, and the publication she named after him.

Beth founded Lindsay officially 18 months ago as an online publication. Incredibly, since deciding to expand into print shortly after, she has published three spectacular issues in the last 12 months. A magazine about places, people and culture, Lindsay transports you in the way only a truly great publication can. Thumbing through its pages readers travel the world through thoughtful essays, insightful interviews, and moving imagery – inside the studio of Croatian painter Stipe Nobilio, to the ocean’s floor with Japan’s Ama divers, and at Jenny Kee’s sunny garden of pinky red Waratahs in the Blue Mountains.

It’s hard to list all of Beth’s achievements with Lindsay over the publication’s lifespan, simply because there are SO many. I’ll only mention a few. Beth took a huge leap of faith by quitting her job to invest in Lindsay full-time, and with her savings. The cover star of the first issue was Australian fashion icon Jenny Kee, then after that New York-based Japanese (Oscar, BAFTA, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning) composer Ryuichi Sakamoto for Issue No. 2, and most recently Nadine Labaki, the Lebanese director of the widely-acclaimed film CAPERNAUM, graced the cover of Lindsay Issue No. 3. Beth photographed each of these globally-renowned talents herself, often on the fly and with little say over location and timing. As well as photographing for and editing Lindsay, Beth has designed each issue herself, under her creative studio Oak Park, earning a distinction for publication design in the 2018 AGDA Design Awards.

Beth is the true definition of a one-woman show, and it’s no accident that she and Lindsay have found so much success in such a short period of time. Driven, ambitious, and with her sights set to the future, we follow Beth on a day shortly after the launch of Lindsay Issue No 3. to see how she gets it done.

FIRST THING

I wake up at 7am. The first thing I do is have coffee with my partner, and then for breakfast, I have homemade bircher muesli. I make a batch up for the week and then top it with fresh fruit each day and eat it at my desk anytime between 8 to 10am.

I also take my dog Thomas out for a walk every morning – after my coffee but before I start work.

MORNING

My first few tasks of the day are usually processing online sales, answering urgent emails, and then I make a plan for the day. Every day looks different. Every month looks different. Sometimes I spend a solid couple of weeks barely leaving my desk, and other weeks I’m hardly there. So it’s hard to have much structure. I think having some routine can be helpful. Like for me, I almost always get up at the same time and start work between 8 to 9am. That works for me. 

LUNCHTIME

I usually eat lunch in, but if I have to go out for something – meetings, post office runs… – I try to time these around lunchtime or mid-afternoon. Just to get some fresh air and break up the day.

I also practice yoga at home every second day or so – usually just before lunch or mid-afternoon, depending on my mood, focus.. And I walk almost everywhere I go. Because I’m based in Collingwood, I’m lucky that nearly everything I have to do is within walking distance. It’s much more calming than public transport and it’s good exercise since I’m at a desk all day.

One of the best parts of working for yourself is having the freedom to work on what you feel like working on. We’re human, we’re not machines, so our mood and energy changes from day to day. I try to work with that rather than against it. But of course, there will always be those times when you have to power through something you really would prefer not to be doing. I think it’s impossible to escape that.

AFTERNOON

My work is so, so varied. One day I could be doing a photoshoot or interview, another day I might be in the shoot or on the receiving end of the interview. Some weeks are heavily focused on research for editorial, others I’m editing, later on in the editorial calendar I’m deep in design mode. And between those tasks, I’m often working on events or our social media, fulfilling retailer orders or answering customer enquiries. I might spend whole days immersed in putting together a presentation for a talk, other days I devote to my design and consulting work for my studio Oak Park. When I have to wear so many different hats, it’s hard to be too rigid about what you do when. So let’s just say my afternoons are pretty fluid. In fact, my weeks are pretty fluid.

EVENING

Over the past year, my clock-off time has been pretty late. I’m not someone who is proud that I’ve worked late into the night, but it felt kind of necessary to begin with. But those sort of hours just aren’t sustainable. So I am in the very early stages of trying this new thing where I clock off sometime before dinner, say sometime between 5 to 7pm, and only go back to my desk if there is something that absolutely needs to be done that night, not just because I still have work to do. There is always work to do.

LAST THING

Peppermint tea and a book or a show before bed!

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Beth walks everywhere, she can to combat long days of sitting inside at her computer. Getting out into nature and fresh air is integral to her routine. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

My approach to work is…

I have never been one of those people who has trouble being disciplined because I’m working from home. My trouble is stepping away. For the last 12 to  18 months I’ve worked incredibly hard to get Lindsay where it is. I’ve worked long days and most weekends. And I have had conflicting views about whether it’s a negative or positive thing for your work and life to be so intertwined.

I feel incredibly lucky to love what I do, but I think I have hit a point where it is important to restore some balance. Independent publishing is an incredibly challenging business to start, so I think I have always felt this urgency to be doing more. But the magazine is now at a point where it has, to some degree, its own momentum. I think it was right to go hard for this past year—I’m not sure I could have gotten it to where it is any other way—but now the time has come to slow down: say no more often, say yes to just the right things, have patience, have virtue and take care of myself so that I feel inspired to continue doing what I love doing.

I want to make Lindsay for many years to come and continuing at the pace I’ve been going is no way to do that. I am currently reading Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow, and I wholeheartedly believe in this philosophy. We are stuck in this mindset that fast is better, that long hours mean more work is achieved, but there are people out there challenging this idea and I want to join them.

Right now I’m listening to/watching/reading…

Listening: Aldous Harding. Her new song ‘The Barrel’ is magic.
Watching: re-watching Mad Men
Reading: Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow and the new Gentlewoman

One important thing I do every day is…

Have coffee with my partner in the morning. We’ve done it for nearly 10 years and it’s my favourite time of the day.

A philosophy I live and work by is…

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I certainly don’t live or work by this philosophy yet, but it’s something I think about often and it’s something I am working towards.

Sometimes everything feels so important, but in the grand picture, so much of it doesn’t really matter. I’m not a surgeon or a leader of a country. I’m not saying what I do isn’t important—it is in its own way—but I don’t want to wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about is an email I forgot to reply to and my heart races. I don’t want to spend my energy worrying about what people will think of my Instagram post or stressing that I’ve missed some big opportunity. There are too many real problems in the world for us all to be spending so much time worrying about things that have no real consequence.

I was 20-years-old when the Kimya Dawson song ‘I Love Giants’ came out. Those lyrics say it all. I am really, really tiny… but that’s kind of liberating.

I switch off by…

I’m still working out how to do this, but I have some strategies in place that I’m proud to say have been helping!

– No phones upstairs (which is where our bedroom is), so that means no looking at my phone first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep. Or at the dining table—that includes over morning coffee.

– When I’m at home, my phone is either on top of the fridge (out of sight, out of mind) or plugged into my speakers. But I’ll keep it on loud so if anyone calls for work, I’ll hear it.

– And a new thing I have just started is turning my computer off when I finish work and shutting my laptop. There’s something very different psychologically about shutting down your computer compared to putting it to sleep. There’s something unsettling about knowing all those tabs are still open and waiting for you. So many tabs!

My productivity tip/tool is…

Look after yourself. Be reflective and find out what works for you. We’re not machines. There’s no formula to “fitting more into the day” and nor should there be. Enjoy your work, stay healthy, stay inspired and you’ll create great work. Sometimes, less is more.  

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net