by Beth Wilkinson

  • Words. Mariah Edgoose
  • Photography. Heather Lighton

Editorial | April 5 2017

From her home-office in Collingwood, Melbourne, Beth Wilkinson is transporting people to unfamiliar places and providing them with insights into diverse cultures. Beth Wilkinson is the founder and creative force behind Lindsay, a new online publication dedicated to place and culture. Lindsay is a platform with an accessible yet enticing aesthetic and produces thoughtful content in the range of essays, interviews and recipes. Ahead of the launch of Lindsay, Beth and I sat down over coffee and friands to discuss digital publishing, her grandfather and film photography.

I’ve had an explore of Lindsay and found it a beautiful and thought-provoking online space. What inspired you to create a publication anchored by the themes of place and culture?

Inspiration to do something on place and culture really stemmed from my experiences with the information I found accessible to me and travelling. While Lindsay, I don’t consider it something that’s about travelling at all, I see it more as an editorial space for interesting content about place and culture, as opposed to the traveller’s experience… I would say the idea was prompted by that. For example, a bit over a year ago I was in New York, and I guess you read up a lot about New York and you have your certain guides and they all point you in different directions, but I found that there wasn’t something curated I could trust that felt like everything in there was for me (and) actually showed all facets of New York … Those sorts of guides take you to the same spots all over the world, rather than looking at what is it about New York City, that makes it New York City? What’s different about it? At the Melbourne Film Festival last year, I saw a fantastic documentary called ‘In Jackson Heights’, and Jackson Heights is in Queens. I didn’t go there when I was in New York, but when I watched that documentary I was like, I totally wish I spent time there…

They’re the sorts of things that I want to talk to, so have a space where people can learn about culture and place in a way that is honest and authentic and not about trends or things that we think people want to know about. The content we (Lindsay) may have on one place, will be really different to the content we have on another place, because we are driven by looking at those places on an individual basis. I think that was the main motivation.

Also a big thing for me, is the fact there is a lot of information about different parts of the world that isn’t always positive. Lindsay has come out in this time when there are a lot of divides between different parts of the world, which is awful, but at the same time has made (Lindsay) feel more purposeful. Like it has a really important place in the digital media landscape in terms of being able to access broad, large audiences and talk about people of all different backgrounds and talk about places from all different parts of the world and share things that are great parts of their culture and important parts of their culture. And hopefully with some of our readers, we will be able to broaden their perspectives or ideas on different parts of the world as well.

By choosing to go online, your publication transcends geographical borders and that seems a really fitting choice, but Lindsay also feels like a printed publication in some respects. For instance, the layout is uncluttered and rather bookish. Why did you choose to go online over print and why have you introduced certain stylised elements of print to your online publication?

Well my background is graphic design, so I naturally have a huge love for print and I would say that’s probably where my heart lies, in print. But when I was thinking about this… there are some really beautiful print publications out there, but their ability to access people all over the world… it’s really hard. Already, I’ve been quite blown away by this, but there has been people from over 60 different countries who have read Lindsay. They might not necessarily be from there, but they’re in that part of the world and to ever be able to do that with print… that would take years and years. And with online you have things like google translate to help language barriers- so really, the drive for it is accessibility.

Hopefully with each piece we publish we can have this large archive, which is way more practical than a printed publication. There is this weird thing with print where it’s like we’re all drawn to it, you know… there’s something so much more special about print than online. But there’s something also slightly more impractical…

Really, the purpose was to try and bring some of those elements together, like the positive elements of each. With being online there’s now search functions, you can go what kind of country am I interested in learning about, what kind of topics am I interested in learning about… and search via those things rather than just getting one edition of the magazine at a time and having to just choose from those pieces. But at the same time, I’m trying to bring together a lot of the things about print that we’re starting to lose with online…

…I guess online can feel slightly disposable. People don’t spend as long on articles in terms of producing them because they’re read quickly and then they’re old news and no one will ever find them again. What I really see, is that Lindsay will be made up of evergreen content, so there’s nothing really we will post that is not relevant two years down the track… For example, the piece we’ve got at the moment on Georgia O’Keeffe-  she’s got a lot of touring exhibitions which is great, but the piece in essence is about her and her relationship with New Mexico and the landscape there. So that’s relevant whether those exhibitions are touring or not ….

The reader’s experience seems to be behind every decision you’ve made for this publication. I saw on Lindsay’s Instagram you were even talking about the typeface you chose for its precise look and feel. How involved has the design process been for you, when did you begin creating Lindsay and what’s the process been like from a-b?

It’s all been pretty involved and my background has been graphic design but I’ve also worked in copywriting and marketing and social media and brand and I think all of that has played into the development of Lindsay. I started working on it solidly in August and probably, for the first six-eight weeks I spent just researching. Maybe even longer. I spent a lot of time reading, making notes, a lot of google docs and notebooks and I met with a lot of people who work in the industry in Melbourne. There were so many people that were hugely generous with agreeing to meet up with me and share their knowledge, which was so helpful. I ordered a lot of print publications and brainstormed about its (Lindsay) purpose and its place and who the audience would be and that sort of thing…

I’m a huge Pinterest person so I have this archive of things I’ve collected over the years so I would be creating new boards and scrapbooking that together to work out how it’s all going to come together and who it (Lindsay) was. That was a really important part of the process and while it felt long at the time, that was really worthwhile in terms of working out its identity.

Something that was important to me was how I could pair my love for design and interest in that, and have something that was well designed and felt beautiful to be on, but didn’t feel exclusive or elite. Which is hard, because actually most of the stuff that is beautiful and stunning has an air of being special and therefore maybe slightly more exclusive and I really didn’t want that … I wanted it to feel as diverse and as colourful and as interesting as the world is.

So then the design process began and I spent a lot of time designing different page layouts … and did a lot of research on typefaces… there’s a reason why people feel a certain way when they read something. Like you said before, it (Lindsay) has this bookish feel, and that was a really big thing that I wanted it to be online, and wanted it to be easy to read and to feel bookish and literary and have some of that charm that we have in printed publications.

So, I ended up choosing ‘Lyon’ for my body typeface… it impacts user experience and mood more than anything. (Laugh) I went back and forth with that choice for a very long time and I’m happy that I ended up choosing that.


You spoke of the identity of Lindsay… where does the name Lindsay come from and how does that tie in to the identity of the publication?

Lindsay is my grandfather’s name. His name was Lindsay James Stranger and he has passed away now but he was a really important person in my life, a real role model and we were very close. He was, I guess, a real explorer. He was a quiet, humble man but had a huge interest in the world and a huge heart for learning about people and different cultures. They didn’t have a lot, but he was able to travel a lot with work- he worked in the air force. He taught himself to take photos, he got old cameras and from my memory of him, he always had his camera with him… I guess he was really interested in capturing beautiful moments and different things happening around the world…

He was a beautiful photographer and I inherited his cameras while he was still alive, and starting shooting on them. I still have them now and shoot on them, and that’s a nice link. I’ve obviously been thinking about him a lot during this process but even when I travel now and I take photos, I always think of him.

Photography plays an important role in the publication, especially through the photo essays. There’s one essay online called ‘Morocco, a Land of Vibrant Fragments’ with photography by Olga de la Iglesia, that really achieves personification of place, of Morocco. I feel like film photography is still such a relevant medium, you just mentioned you shoot with film, as your grandfather did. What is it about film photography do you think that captures moments so well?

I think there are a few things… there are a few things I can articulate and then there’s something that you can’t even explain… maybe if you had a more tech background you could (laughs). But one of the things is the preciousness of film- the fact you only have a limited amount of shots to a role and that makes you think differently when you’re viewing something as a photographer. I think that you’re much more thoughtful and considered and you’re looking for something different a lot of the time. Also, there can be this rawness to film photography because (depending on the camera you have) everything is manual…  The subject may not always be in focus but that’s fine, because there’s something about what’s happening there and then.

There’s also just something about the colours and the texture of film that can’t really be replicated with digital, there’s an honesty to it… I would never edit my film photographs, because it just feels like I’m cheating them or something. Where digital photography, I think people are much more comfortable with that post-production process. Don’t get me wrong, I think digital photography has its place and again, it’s much more practical in many ways.  We won’t always use just film for Lindsay but I think for when we can, we will. I’m definitely searching for photographers, that’s something I’ll be looking for…

And the truth is, we’re not using them (film) because they’re retro and cool, we’re using them because film photographs are very, very high quality.

You mention you will be looking for photographers… despite being a one-womanshow, there’s obviously a lot of people involved in and connected to your project, and a lot of others that will be involved as it continues to grow. How do you welcome people into your project?

…I have a pretty big dream list of people I would like to work with, and I’m going to slowly work through them after the launch because hopefully they’re more likely to see the potential in the publication when it’s live. I’m so grateful to the people that trusted me with this, because people contributed to this and they didn’t have anything… they had a pdf I sent them that I worked really hard on so they would believe this was going to happen, but for all they could’ve known I may not have even followed through with this. So, I wanted to keep that pool of people limited, and some people said no and some people said yes. When those people said yes, those were like those little wins that you get, they keep you going.

But yeah – I’ve got a little page on the website all about contributors. I will definitely be looking… at the moment its hard, because this is new and I’m naturally going to have more networks in Melbourne. But, I’m keen to have that as broad as it possibly can be. So I will be welcoming new contributors to get involved. Eventually it would be wonderful to have a solid regular contributor base of writers and photographers and illustrators that I trust, and they get the publication and I value their work so I want to share it with lots of people… that’s the ideal.

Let’s talk about the launch then as you mentioned it before. Lindsay already has a strong body of content online, but the actual launch is Thursday April 6th, could you tell us about the kind of night you have planned?

It’s really an event to celebrate the site and everyone who’s worked on it. Because as you said, I’m here working on it every day, but there are so many people that have contributed to this. Mentors who have given advice, my developer and all the contributors… So it’s really a way to thank them and celebrate everyone who has been involved and share it with more people.

I’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of people support the launch which is great. Allpress (Collingwood) have agreed to host it for us, so they have this beautiful space above their café, which I don’t know if many people know about… it’s a gorgeous space. It has a little built-in bar and open beams so it’s pretty much my perfect venue so I’m hugely appreciative to them…

And I’ve got some talks. Ongoing, my plan has always been to do some events as part of Lindsay, and again that’s a way of bringing that human and personal side to the publication. Print always feels slightly more personal and I didn’t want that online element to make it feel too distant to people. To start off with that will be in Melbourne but ongoing, I’d love to have little pop-up events all over the world.

At first it felt weird to launch a website, I was like, how do you do that? Maybe I’ll have a mini version, like a real taster of the kind of events I would like to do in the future.

Sounds amazing. Is there anything else you would like to add?

This morning I was thinking about it, the thing is, there are so many people who could do great things, like this, but the reason people don’t is because it’s hard. Digital media is a really unknown medium and a lot of us, even people who have got big backing behind them, (are) still grappling with how it’s all working and it’s changing so quickly. Digital publishing is so dependent on social media yet they’re changing their algorithms all the time so that it works differently and that’s hard. So, I think the biggest thing is working out what is the place for digital media, is this a sustainable medium, how does that work…

I guess my aim is to create something that is sustainable, and then be able to not just share these stories but support all the people out there… you know the contributors but also the people we profile, the people who are doing really important things with culture.

Lindsay launches April 6th, 6pm-9pm at Allpress Studio in Collingwood, Melbourne. Talks begin at 7pm- see who is guest-speaking at the launch of Lindsay Here. Find Lindsay on Facebook Here, Instagram @lindsayonline.

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