“I love seeing all our hard work in a nice little package. As much as we worry, it’s always pulled together and looks pretty good, if I do say so myself,” says Susan.
“The best advice that I can give anyone is to not say no to anything, and to follow the way the river turns. If you can get an internship, even if you’re paid nothing, the experience is invaluable. Keep as active as you can, and be persistent,” says Susan Laughlin, Creative Director and Food Editor of New Hampshire Magazine.
As a child, Susan always found herself drawing little pictures of families, floor plans and houses. She always excelled in art classes, and decided to pursue a fine arts and commercial arts background. “I always liked to write, too,” says Susan, “and at a former position, I was always writing little campaigns and doing marketing-style writing. It wasn’t in the job description, but I loved to do it.”
Susan briefly left New Hampshire for Iowa, returning three months later, and found herself applying for a position as a typesetter at New Hampshire Magazine. “The job application was actually for a typesetter, but I knew that’s not what I would be doing, because nobody’s done that since the 1970s,” Susan says. “I moved into a graphic design position, and I quickly moved from there to the position of Creative Director.”
Susan’s primary responsibility is the layout of the magazine: making sure that everything is placed correctly and consistently, photos are color-corrected, and that each page looks clean and professional before the magazine is sent to print. She also writes occasionally in her position as Food Editor. “I usually write the lead
cuisine story, but it wasn’t always my position. Originally it was done by the assistant editor, but she confessed that she didn’t know very much about food. Since my husband and I dine out a lot and I had learned a substantial amount about wine, I decided to take over.”
Photography is another one of Susan’s many passions-turned- positions at New Hampshire Magazine. “I’ve taken some classes, and I’ve been on photo shoots with professional photographers. Luckily, I’ve been able to pick up the basics on my own and then get tips from them.”
Susan also interviews local artisans, such as woodworkers, jewelers, and crafters, especially those who would not otherwise have opportunities to advertise. “A favorite thing of mine that I used to do was write the get-away section, where I would travel to a bed and breakfast for the weekend and write about it and the local flavor; the owners always knew the best spots in town. The column has been discontinued, but I still get to travel a bit. I think that getting out of the office every once in a while is one of the best things. It refreshes you, you have opportunities to learn a lot about this wonderful state, and you receive more insight into a story when you are there in person.”
One of Susan’s memorable encounters with local culture was a piece she covered on a man in Mount Vernon who created a Christmas museum out of his collections of knick-knacks. “He had such a great collection, but because there was a Christmas twist, it was only open during that time of year. He was so thrilled that we did the story on him, and he ended up receiving a lot of visitors because of it.” Unfortunately, the museum fell victim to a roof collapse during the ice storm of December 2008.
The most rewarding aspect of working with a magazine is seeing the final product at the end of the month. “I love seeing all our hard work in a nice little package. As much as we worry, it’s always pulled together and looks pretty good, if I do say so myself!” We wholeheartedly agree with Susan on this.