How Ella Johnston Got Ahead

“My favourite brand is The Beatles – the ultimate band brand.”

Ella Johnston
Axon Publishing (
Job title:
Managing Editor
What made you want to get into

Words and pictures fascinate me – in fact my degree was in Art History and Literature. But iconic images and great use of words can be found all around us every day, so it felt like a natural progression.
How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?
Hard graft, ingenuity, a can-do attitude and lots of ambition.
What was good and bad about your first job?
My first job taught me how to deal with difficult people – a good skill for the long term, but not much fun when I was there.
List your jobs to date:
I promoted a small theatre company, then did a stint at Express Newspapers. I enjoyed the dot com boom working for a multi-media internet hub in Shoreditch and editing an e-commerce website before joining TPD/Just to work on the Goldfish online guides. I spent over two years at Just working with fabulous people (colleagues and clients alike) on magazines and internet sites. I left to join Restaurant magazine where I started as production editor and 18 months later they made me the editor. I wanted to broaden my experience so I freelanced for a while and wrote for and edited some fabulous titles, worked on the launch of a football magazine and even had some fun working as a TV presenter. Now I’m aboard the good ship Axon.
What were the best and worst, and why?
My best job is my current job – I work with fantastic, talented people and excited, energetic clients who inspire me to get even better at what I do. The worst by far was my first with a theatre company.
Journalists and designers are a breeze compared with actors!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Andy Warhol – he knew the power of a good quote and a great image.
Who in the industry do you most admire?
The subs on The Sun – their headlines are great. Peter Saville never fails to impress either.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I don’t like resting on my laurels – there’s always something to be done.

On what do you base your success so far?
Never, ever being satisfied. Being excited by the work that I and others do. Learning from the excellent people I’ve worked with, and remembering the triumphs as well as the mistakes.
What are your ambitions?
More projects and challenges – building on my existing relationships and forging new ones. Broadening Axon’s portfolio and inspiring the team to keep on producing excellent work, while still growing creatively.
Change one thing about your job:
Can I have a 48-hour day please?
Change one thing about your industry:
Change one thing about the world:
I wish there was more love in it.
What is your favourite brand?
The Beatles – the ultimate band brand.
What is the next big brand in your view?

I think people are already creating their own.
List your ‘media diet’:
A large quantity of interior and fashion mags (it helps on the M&S Home account). Youth magazines and websites to keep things fresh. Plus the staples of Guardian Unlimited, Marketing Week, Media Week, Creative Review, Design Week and the Press Gazette. I indulge in special treats such as myspace, youtube and Holy Moly. I always take a peek at Wonderland – what will they use on the cover next?


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