CV : ASHLEY HEATH senior editor, 'The Face', editor, 'Arena Homme Plus'


I went to Durham University and studied psychology. I enjoyed my degree, but I don't think it was of any use to a career in journalism. I decided I wanted to be a writer, but when I left university in 1989 I didn't know if I was going to be an angry young novelist, or a newspaper journalist.

I'd done the student journalism thing, along with a bit of radio, and work experience on the Northern Echo - all the things you should do to get into the BBC, really. I actually did get down to the last four for a news reporter's job at TVS, and I remember in the interview these very serious news editor types looking very condescending. They asked me whom I'd really like to interview, and I said Marvin Gaye, though I suppose I was meant to say Aneurin Bevan or someone like that. It met with a completely stony silence.

I'm very much of that generation that grew up with The Face, and I'd seen how much it had changed the media. I saw the boom in Sunday supplements, and the way other glossy magazines had improved as a result of The Face's influence. I'd also always looked at Vogue and Tatler, and was quite inspired by them, but in the end I thought, "Really, what I want to do is work at The Face."

So I decided to do the magazine journalism course at City University, which was most useful in that it gave me the opportunity to come to London and start freelancing. I contacted the editor of The Face, Sheryl Garrett, with a series of ideas, and one of the first pieces I did was about the Surfers Against Sewage campaign, a very young, dynamic, media-friendly group I'd just met in Cornwall.

Throughout the City journalism course I was also working pretty much full time for the fashion trade press - Fashion Weekly and Menswear. Menswear in fact offered me a full-time job, and I did three jobs with that company, International Thompson, in the space of a year. I suppose it was during that time that I learnt to be more forward with my ideas, and discovered that, for all its talk, the media is quite stale and undynamic as an industry. There are times when I get very depressed about the state of British magazines: when I flick through them in WH Smith, there are so few that ever make me stop and think.

I went from reporter to feature writer in the trade press, while still contributing to The Face. The Face had just been having a very tough time, having gone through the Jason Donovan libel case, and when all that finished Sheryl Garrett asked me to join the staff full time. That meant taking a pay cut, but I was more than happy to do that because I felt the magazine could have a second great period - which I'd say we've achieved.

I became very involved in directing the fashion in the magazine, and it began having a huge international impact on that level. Then, in late 1995, to take on a new challenge, I got involved in Arena Homme Plus, a twice-a-year glossy fashion bible. I suggested to Nick Logan I'd like to do the job, and he was brave enough to give it to a 25-year-old. I still feel very proud whenever an issue of The Face or Arena Homme Plus comes out, and although I have been offered a number of other jobs in magazines and newspapers, my aim, rather than climbing any greasy, corporate pole, is always to put out a good product.

People often think I'm very young to be doing what I'm doing - holding senior positions on two very successful and influential international magazines. But what I do is very much a young man's job, though of course, I wonder whether I'll want to be doing this beyond the age of 30 - and indeed whether I could. I've been offered TV work, but I have this fear of ending up as just someone who used to present a TV programme and forever after gets laughed at in Sainsbury's.

I think it would be very difficult to leave The Face comfortably - though very easy to leave it and earn more money. But already I do other work in the fashion and music industries, write occasionally for newspapers, and do consulting work for advertising agencies, so The Face has opened up a lot of inter-related avenues to me. It's fantastic to be able to work so many areas, and that gives me much more of a high than, say, meeting my heroes, or going to launch parties and mixing with directors and actressesn

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