Imagine Success Stories

At Imagine Publishing we are proud that we have created an inspirational ideas-driven publishing environment that allows driven creative individuals to develop themselves and their careers. But don't just take our word for it...

Darran Jones, Editor

When did you join Imagine Publishing and what was your job?

I joined Imagine Publishing in November 2005, making me one of the longest running members of the videogame editorial team. My initial position was as Deputy Editor of Retro Gamer magazine.

What attracted you to Imagine?

It’s always nice to be head-hunted for a job; and even nicer when it’s involving something you’re truly passionate about. There were big risks joining Imagine at the time, (it had only been set up for a few months before I joined and I had a wife and two children to consider) but there were also big rewards for being there. I liked the ethos that the company was following and loved the freedom that I was being offered.

What were your first 3 months at Imagine like?

Amazingly hard, but very satisfying. We had a little over two weeks to ship the first issue of Retro Gamer and I worked very closely with the Creative Director, Mark Kendrick, to ensure that the magazine was as good as it could possibly be. This involved many meetings and many late evenings, but the end result was worth it.

What challenges did you face then?

Learning how to run a magazine. I’d previously only been in charge of the retro section when I was working on games™, so having to handle the entire production of a magazine was quite a task. Fortunately there was a strong managerial team above me that showed me the ropes and gave me plenty of helpful advice.

When was your first promotion?

It came quickly, roughly six months after I started at the company, when I was promoted to Editor of Retro Gamer. Again it was hard work, but the rewards are there and I was really pleased to progress to my senior position in a short amount of time.

Which magazines do you work on/get involved in?

Apart from my own, I regularly contribute to SciFiNow, Apps Magazine and games™, mainly as these are the magazines that I have the most interest in. I occasionally freelance for Play, 360 Magazine and X360.

Has Imagine changed much since you joined?

It’s changed massively since I started. There were only two gaming mags back then (360 Magazine and Cheat Machine) and the side of the office I was in was virtually empty. Everyone pulled together to get things done (we’d all pitch in to take magazines up stairs when they were delivered and there was a strong sense of community (directors making us cups of tea etc). The company is now obviously much larger than it was, but it remains a great place to work. Whilst the founders are far busier, they always find time to chat and see how you’re progressing, which is very satisfying.

What do you like most about Imagine?

I like the people, the trust I’m given over my magazine and the fact that after nearly 6 years I still genuinely look forward to coming into work each day.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining Imagine in any type of Editorial role?

Join us. Imagine Publishing is a great place to work and if you’re prepared to be the best you can be you’ll be rewarded for it. There are great opportunities at Imagine and it’s full of similar like-minded passionate people.

Aaron Asadi, Head of Publishing (Board)

When did you join Imagine Publishing and what was your job?

I was lucky enough to begin at Imagine as a News Editor for Play, a magazine that had always been very close to my heart during my time with Paragon Publishing and then Highbury Entertainment soon after.

It wasn’t simply a matter of same magazine, different company though; the whole culture of Imagine felt so refreshing and it had an instantaneous impact. The magazine was reinvigorated with a creative-first sensibility – a point punctuated by the fact that Play was given a redesign for its first Imagine issue.

Joining a new company is always exciting but being trusted to be a part of Imagine’s creative process on such an important project, and so soon after arriving, offered a much deeper satisfaction. It was an incredibly positive experience.

What attracted you to Imagine?

I want to be honest here: I joined Imagine following the acquisition of Highbury Entertainment’s titles. I knew little about it outside of the fact that it was a new company competing in markets that excited me as a creative.

For me, the relevant question is why Imagine became so attractive after I joined. In just a few weeks the reasons for wanting to become a permanent part of Imagine were clear: shared ambition; a love of the creating great products; transparency; accountability; opportunities to learn; great support; and a cool new Mac.

I think everyone shares a professional ambition to belong to a company like Imagine. I feel very fortunate that I was able to achieve that goal so early on in my career.

What were your first 3 months at Imagine like?

Fun.

What challenges did you face then?

Creative ones, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Markets can change, new products will launch, audiences might mature and demands frequently evolve. The thrill of publishing is to adapt to these different challenges, to meet them head-on in new, compelling ways – to be creative.

At Imagine we were able to focus on these challenges exclusively. The support we were given meant nothing interfered with our creative objectives, which is precisely the ideal.

Publishing companies are full of stories of internal politics, unstable economics and widespread inexperience burdening the creative process. We don’t have that at Imagine – the focus was and is on building creative solutions for publishing challenges.

As a Writer, Editor or Designer you want those challenges, you look for them. To find a company that encourages such enthusiasm, that wants to develop solutions with you as its priority, is inspiring.

When was your first promotion?

My first promotion was to Deputy Editor on Play and it was great to feel recognised for the work we as a team had done to develop the title. At Imagine it’s always been made clear that success is shared, and everything from promotions to receiving free iPads stems from that philosophy.

But I have never been one for focussing on job titles. Genuinely, it’s more about being part of a positive, creative culture where initiative and passion are prized above a rigid structure.

It’s a perception I try to share with my teams – if you have a good idea or want to influence your brand in anyway, don’t wait until you’ve reached Editor-level to try to affect the change. Part of belonging to a meritocracy – and Imagine is irrefutably one of these – means a great initiative is a great initiative regardless of whose desk it originated from.

The challenge is to make a great product and we can only do that as part of a team. I don’t think that teams are solely shaped by promotions – the right culture, the right support, the right facilities and the right attitudes are more telling factors.

What happened after that – how did you end up as Head of Publishing?

I was invited to help launch SciFiNow, Imagine’s first film and TV entertainment title. Having been raised on a diet of gamma rays and X-Wings, I was obviously delighted to be presented with the chance to develop something special in what had become a stale and uninspired market.

It was a wonderful learning experience and I look back on my early days on SciFiNow with real fondness. We weren’t trying to simply launch a new magazine, we were trying to create a fresh identity that would instantly engage an audience of thousands around the world.

With Imagine’s excellent support structure I felt we were able to forge a product that found it easy to evolve with the changing sci-fi and fantasy market. Today the magazine is stronger than ever and I think it is because it’s been built on an ethos that encourages adaptation and improvements and doesn’t just rely on a staid familiarity.

The success of SciFiNow was recognised and, again, shared, and I was invited to launch a new magazine, HD Review. The personal significance of that, though, is that HD Review was based on a proposal that I had submitted. Here was a company that not only said it was committed to a creative culture but demonstrated it was.

As an Editor there is no better feeling than knowing that the things you are most passionate about will be invested in by your company and then nurtured. And I can tell you first-hand there is no greater proof of that creative encouragement than when a company publishes a magazine that stemmed from your idea. Of course, you feel rewarded to have made an impact on the international newsstand but mostly you just feel an overwhelming sense of pride to belong to such a positive enterprise.

After HD Review was launched, more opportunities opened up and I was made Editor in Chief. But, as I say, my time with Imagine hasn’t been defined by what title I was given and when – it’s much more about what products I was involved with, what I helped create, what brands I’ve helped develop. I don’t feel defined by any particular management structure, but by what projects I have been a part of since 2006. Yes, I’m Head of Publishing at one of the most exciting publishing companies in the world but it’s the work I’m infatuated with. Right now there is no greater thrill than launching a new eBook, or publishing a new bookazine or creating stunning magazine covers – that’s not about titles, that’s about culture.

What titles/websites are you responsible for?

I’m still fortunate enough to oversee SciFiNow, Play and Apps Magazine – brands I still get really excited about. In the main I help co-ordinate Imagine’s bookazine and eBook projects, which now entails managing various different brands, including For Beginners, Tips & Tricks, Directory, Collection, Book and Genius Guide.

But Imagine is nothing if not collaborative. All the department heads work closely together and we’re very conscious of each other’s brands. We always learn from one another, share assistance and ideas when we can, and really aim to meet our creative challenges together – it’s part of the culture.

Has Imagine changed much since you joined?

Imagine is in a perpetual state of growth. We publish more titles than ever before, work in more markets than ever before, develop for a larger variety of formats than ever before, have more staff than ever before, have a larger premises than ever before but I wouldn’t say we’ve changed.

Running through Imagine are its core values – its unflinching commitment to quality, its dedication to its employees – and they’re in everything we do. I heard the principle recently described as being like writing on a stick of rock – no matter how big Imagine gets, those values will always run through the heart of the company.

Ultimately, no matter how many different brands Imagine creates and acquires those will still be nurtured in the same way and with the same passion as the first magazines were back in 2005.

What do you like most about Imagine?

The future. As proud as I am of the work we have done here, and as much as I enjoy the products we’ve created, it’s always the next project that has me most excited.

Imagine is a forward-looking company. It’s ambitious, dynamic and focussed, so as a consequence we’re always exploring ways we can improve and new projects we can develop. In the creative industry, nothing inspires more than new opportunities and at Imagine we have the experience and support to identify and capitalise on these.

Being a part of Imagine’s growth has been fantastic, absolutely. It’s been an incredible experience; I’ve worked with some remarkable people and enjoyed building strong, relevant brands. But when you belong to Imagine you don’t work because of what it’s achieved, you work because of what it will.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining Imagine in any type of Editorial role?

Apply.

Danielle Dixon, Senior Art Editor

When did you join Imagine Publishing and what was your job?

It was February 2006. I transferred over from Highbury where I was at Designer level throughout the transition period but got promoted to Senior Designer on Windows XP magazine when I came over to Imagine.

What attracted you to Imagine?

It was a completely fresh company, new office buildings, open plan, real windows and they used InDesign not Quark! The 4.5 day working week and the open honest environment was appealing. I liked the way the Directors were part of the office plan and it was a social atmosphere.

What were your first 3 months at Imagine like?

It was a bit harder for some of us as we were brought over from Highbury so it was a busy few weeks, changing magazines and learning Indesign. It was nice though as it was such a small company everyone knew who everyone was and the tea-making rounds were for most of the office! A new style of working environment for me.

What challenges did you face then?

I had never used InDesign before starting at Imagine so this was the main obstacle. Leaving the security of one magazine and moving into a new creative magazine and environment was fantastic and moving to Imagine gave me these opportunities.

When was your first promotion?

I was promoted to Senior Designer when I started at Imagine and about 2 years after that I was made an Art editor.

What happened after that –how did you end up as a Senior Art Editor?

I moved from Advanced Photoshop to Photoshop Creative where I was promoted to Art Editor. After this I left the Creative department for that of Games where I did a 6 month stint on PowerStation magazine before moving on to the new Bookazine/Studio division. A year later we had gone from one designer to three in the department and I was promoted to Senior Art Editor in April 2011. We are now developing our iPad projects and increasing the eBook side of the company.

What titles/websites are you responsible for?

I am responsible for the design production of all Imagine’s Bookazines. I also help in the running of the Studio and control the work flow of three other Junior level designers. On top of this, with one other designer we are also developing Imagine’s iPad projects, testing out new programs and developing this new direction of non-printed design.

Has Imagine changed much since you joined?

It has changed so much. It has grown from a company with 30 employees to one with over 140 people. Two of the magazines I have worked on in the past have closed but have been replaced with many more bigger and better titles always moving on as a company. More impressive is the rapid growth of Apps, websites and eBooks Imagine now produce, many of which weren't even possible five years ago.

What do you like most about Imagine?

I like the career progression. In most companies you need to wait for a job role to open up before being considered for a promotion, here that is not the case - you get promoted on merit and the more you put in the more you get in return. I think the 4.5 day working week and the opportunity to earn extra money with freelance is also at the top of my list!

Getting a free iPad at the Christmas party was an enormous surprise too!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining Imagine in any type of Design role?

I would say it starts with the portfolio. Get some magazine layout examples in your portfolio to show off what you can do and come in at the right level for your experience. Also plan ahead, think what you would like to be working on and what your career ambitions are because there are many different routes Designers can take at Imagine.

Hang Deretz, Head of Sales

When did you join Imagine Publishing and what was your job?

I joined Imagine Publishing on 28th July 2008 as an Account Manager.

What attracted you to Imagine?

I had just re-located to the area from Surrey and was looking for a media sales owner that epitomised the ones I had worked for previously in London. Imagine Publishing fitted the bill! It was the dynamic, fast paced environment I was looking for combined with great products to work on. Although, I was looking for an Ad Manager’s role, I took the Account Manager position as Imagine Publishing was the only company I wanted to work for in the area (it is in fact the only company I applied to). I believed that once I was “in the door” I would be able to prove my skills and ability. I would also be in the perfect position to apply for an Ad Manager’s role when one became available.

What were your first 3 months at Imagine like?

It was reassuring to find that what I thought about the company was all true. Everyone was welcoming, from all areas of the business and were more than happy to help me with my knowledge of the markets I was working in. It was great to be back in the front line of sales again and the Photography team were a great support. It was also an exciting time for Imagine Publishing as we had recently launched all of the magazine websites and the sales teams were in the process of getting to grips with booking online inventory.

What challenges did you face then?

The biggest challenge I faced was my lack of market knowledge. I had no prior experience of the Photography market and it was just a matter of immersing myself in the marketplace and reading all I could about it. I was able to use the comprehensive reader surveys at available at Imagine in order to build my sales stories. This actually gave me the opportunity to really delve into who our readers are and what their buying habits were.

When was your first promotion?

In April 2009 I successfully applied for the Ad Manager’s role on the Creative Computing division when it became available.

What happened after that – how did you end up as Head of Sales?

I continued to work hard and faced several challenges. The team was understaffed and hence my first priority was recruitment. I initially had a very challenging time; however, in the space of 6 months we were back up to full strength and began to hit our sales targets. I focused on continuing to build the division and take it even further. The division began to consistently hit target and I began to think seriously about whether I should go for the Head of Sales role. By November 2010 I decided that I wanted a new challenge and approached Damian with a document highlighting my interest in a new role and how I could add value in that role. After several meetings with Damian, I was fortunate enough to be told that I would be promoted to the Head of Sales role effective from December 2010.

What titles/websites are you responsible for?

As Head of Sales I am responsible for the entire print and digital portfolio on a day to day operational level. One minute I can be talking about cloud computing and the next I will be asked about the latest Porsche 911!

Has Imagine changed much since you joined?

Since I’ve joined Imagine Publishing we have grown, not just in the number of employees but also in the number of products we produce and sell. However, the culture has remained the same open, friendly and meritocratic environment that I joined. It has stayed true to its core values of producing award winning products and rewarding the hard work of the employees.

What do you like most about Imagine?

I love the fact that all three of the founders are so active in the business and with their combined drive, enthusiasm and energy it gives the whole company a real sense of purpose and really spurs on all of the people that work here. I would hate to be accused of being cheesy but it really is a great place to work as it is a meritocracy. All the hard work is rewarded and this can be seen from the monthly social events through to job promotions.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining Imagine in any type of Sales role?

If you want a job where hard work is rewarded combined with genuine career prospects then this is the place to come. Be prepared to put in 100% and take ownership of everything you do and the sky really is the limit. You should only think about joining us if you are serious about pushing yourself to achieving the very best that you can. It really is as simple as putting in the phone calls, going on the meetings, providing the clients with the best solutions for them, providing unrivalled client services, understanding your markets and working at it hard. If you can do all of this then Imagine Publishing is definitely the place for you.

Olivia Page, Production Controller

When did you join Imagine Publishing and what was your job?

I officially joined Imagine Publishing in February 2006 as Production Co-ordinator.

What attracted you to Imagine?

I really enjoyed working in the publishing industry and had a thirst for it but wanted to be with a more forward thinking company that produced high quality magazines and had an agenda to constantly be developing.

What were your first 3 months at Imagine like?

My first 3 months at Imagine were exciting yet a little scary! There was so much to learn and lots of shiny new things.

What challenges did you face then?

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Making teams stick to a deadline, making suppliers stick to a deadline, getting paperwork done to deadline. Learning a lot about the value of deadlines. Imagine runs like clockwork because of this ethic.

When was your first promotion and what happened after that?

I was promoted in April 2009 to Production Controller. I moved into this role after proving that I had the ability to independently monitor the production process throughout and was eager and able to take on more responsibility.

Which magazines do you work on/get involved in?

I work over all titles and liaise with all departments.

Has Imagine changed much since you joined?

Yes, definitely. It has expanded in so many ways mostly on a digital platform, but also with many successful new launches, bookazines and new departments, not to mention loads more new office space.

What do you like most about Imagine?

The infectious sense of enthusiasm that comes from being surrounded by so many varied and creative people.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining Imagine in any type of Production role?

Working in Production is a really rewarding role as you are the people that make things run smoothly ironing out the bumps in the road. If you enjoy being organised and being able to think on your feet as well as each day being different Production is definitely the place to be.

Jonathan Gordon, Editor

When did you join Imagine Publishing and what was your job?

I joined Imagine back in July 2006 as a Staff Writer on 360 Magazine. It was my first full-time position in the industry after a few years of work experience and freelancing.

What attracted you to Imagine?

Imagine was a pretty new company when I joined, just beginning to expand and that was very exciting to me, since I was really just starting out on my journey and career. I thought it would be a great space to learn and grow, which as it happened proved to be a sound assumption.

What were your first 3 months at Imagine like?

Those first few months were incredibly exciting. We were producing a really great magazine with big creative features. 360 was a great magazine to get my teeth into and develop as a writer. I came in with a bunch of writers around the same time and we really banded together, which was great.

What challenges did you face then?

I was really learning everything from scratch. I came to Imagine with a History degree so I had no formal journalism training. My work experience and freelancing helped me get started, but the day to day is something you need to experience. All I had was a passion for the work and desire to make a great magazine.

When was your first promotion?

I was promoted to News Editor of 360 around April 2007. That was a pretty quick promotion, but it was an amazing opportunity. It helped to focus me and I settled into the responsibility in a way I couldn’t have predicted.

What happened after that –how did you end up as an Editor?

I spent a few years as News Editor after that, moving across our games division from 360 to Play. I’ve always just wanted to do the best for the magazine I’m working on, regardless of my title or presumed responsibility and because of that I often took on additional duties to help each magazine. Over time that meant more and more input into design, branding, marketing, covers and social media and it eventually led to a promotion to Deputy Editor in 2011.

I moved to Apps Magazine which was one of Imagine’s fairly new launches where I really learnt that role for real and had the chance to work with a fantastic team to help cement the brand and the voice of the magazine. In late 2012 I moved to iCreate, which is one of Imagine’s flagship magazines and was promoted to Editor in February 2013. The roles have changed and so have the challenges, but my motivation hasn’t. I still just want to make the best magazine I can regardless and get the chance to work with people who feel the same way. Thankfully that’s exactly what I’ve got on iCreate now.

Which magazines do you work on/get involved in?

iCreate

Has Imagine changed much since you joined?

Purely in terms of size it’s a much bigger company now than when I joined, but it was already growing fast back then. In terms of its vision I think it’s clear we’ve gone from being a print publisher to a multimedia content generator. Publishing is a different business now to when I started doing work experience 15 years ago. The internet, 24 hour news, digital publishing and more makes this a completely different game, but that’s such an exciting environment to be involved in and Imagine Publishing feels like it’s right in the middle of all that change, making things happen.

What do you like most about Imagine?

There’s an uncompromising commitment to quality here that I sometimes have to take a step back and appreciate. When you’re in the middle of it all, it can seem very demanding, but the final product always looks superb. And really getting to work with such talented, dedicated and creative people every day makes getting up in the morning worth it.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining Imagine in any type of role?

Stop thinking about it and apply already.