Eleanor Sutherland is an arts writer, editor and computer-scientist-in-progress (at the University of York). She is the creative producer of Aesthetica Magazine, a cat mum to Fergus and loves simple sentences and clear signage.
Aesthetica is a visually stunning mix of photography, debate and stimulating features. Published bi-monthly, Aestheticaengages with the arts both in the UK and internationally, combining dynamic content with compelling critical debate and exploring the best in visual art, film, music and performance.
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1. What inspired you to get into writing as a career?
It’s cliché, but I’ve always loved to write, make and design. As a nine-year-old, I “published” my own magazine, Cats Today, all about my pets and how to look after them. I even took all the photographs myself! Beyond that, the psychology of words never ceases to amaze me: there is so much meaning in the simple act of putting together a sentence. I see writing as an art form and a craft. It’s a skill I will always be developing.
2. Aesthetica is a worldwide destination for art and culture. Do you have a favourite artist that you’ve discovered through working at the magazine?
I discover new artists every day, which is one of the joys of working at Aesthetica. It would be difficult to choose just one. Right now, I am extremely interested in those who are using, and responding to, technology. There are some big questions arising surrounding AI. In our December / January issue, for example, we feature Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, who creates fascinating research-based work about the relationship between search engines, digital bias and the experiences of Mexican women. My degree in the History of Art means I’m intrigued by how today’s creatives are rewriting traditional approaches. Interviewing Ori Gersht about his blown-up 17th century flower paintings was a highlight.
3. What do you find to be the most challenging part of working on an upcoming magazine issue?
The sheer choice of what to include! There are only so many pages to fill, and a whole wide world of amazing creatives to choose from. We have to ask ourselves: who are we representing in print, how, and why? Our goal is to cover those at the cutting-edge: trailblazers who are making not only beautiful work, but meaningful projects that contribute to key contemporary conversations. Our features look at themes of representation, climate crisis and digitisation. There are exhibitions and books launching every week. The landscape is continually changing, and so we must find features that cut through the noise.
4. Is there a particular issue you are most proud of?
The December / January Edition: Issue 110. It’s the first time I’ve worked closely on a print issue — I’ve been mainly working on digital content up until now! It’s been eye-opening learning a whole new skill set and helping to craft the publication from the ground-up: researching, curating, writing, editing. We feature an interview with Tyler Mitchell, the first Black photographer to shoot a cover of Vogue in its 126-year history, plus neon-noir imagery from Liam Wong and a whole host of new photography from across the globe. Nothing beats having a physical product at the end to hold in your hands!
5. What’s the best part of working at Aesthetica?
It’s very rewarding to be part of an independent arts magazine. Our office is full of inspiring ideas bouncing around, and we meet so many brilliant creative people throughout the year. I have learnt a lot in five years: one minute I’m editing an article and the next I’m building a brand-new website or designing an advert. Beyond the magazine, we’re always working on events and prizes: The Aesthetica Art Prize, Creative Writing Award, Film Festival and Symposium keep us very busy! Supporting new talent is at the heart of what we do.
6. Is there anything coming up that Aesthetica readers would like to know about?
We’ll be marking our 20-year anniversary with the February / March 2023 edition. It’s such an amazing milestone. The magazine was started on a Sunday in the early noughties when Editor Cherie Federico and Production Director Dale Donley were still students. Now, it’s read all around the world. The next edition of the Future Now Symposium is coming up in March 2023; watch out for the programme announcement, as we’ll be hosting some very interesting talks with key artists and galleries.
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Thank you, Eleanor, Exact Editions loved hearing about Cats Today and your thoughts on artists using and responding to technology. We cannot wait to see the 20th anniversary February/ March 2023 issue of Aesthetica!