Creative Lives — Dazed Media Group’s editorial director, Bunny Kinney: “I didn’t want to fit in!”

Posted 06 February 2019 Interview by Indi Davies

As a teenager, Bunny Kinney had what he calls a ‘great awakening’: “I realised I didn’t want to fit in!” he shares, “It was pure freedom!” Embracing difference and the idea that it’s ok to be whoever you want to be is something that Bunny has carried through to his role today. As editorial director at Dazed Media Group, he champions exciting, unusual and urgent work across Nowness, Another, Another Man and the newly-launched Dazed Beauty. Overseeing two separate teams of editors and creatives, he guides overall creative direction in a role that relies heavily on collaboration. “I make sure I have trusted people working alongside me... I depend on other people to be my eyes, ears and judges of good taste.” He describes balancing both commercial and personal work, looks back on some career-defining moments, and shares the steps he takes to avoid stress. 

Bunny Kinney

Job Title

Editorial Director, Dazed Media Group (2017–present)

Previous Employment

Creative Director, Commercial and Video, i-D Magazine (2014–2017)
Video Producer, Vice (2012–2014)

Place of Study

MA Cultural Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (2011)
BA Film, Emerson College, 2007

Website
Social Media

Bunny

Day-to-Day

How would you describe your job?
My work normally involves having to come up with lots of ideas on demand! I am a writer, editor, filmmaker, creative director and brand consultant. As editorial director of Dazed Media Group, I help steer the editorial, creative and digital direction of various publishing platforms and titles including Dazed, Another, and Another Man

I am most hands-on with Nowness, a premium lifestyle video channel which Dazed acquired from LVMH in 2017 (for which I’m also creative director) and Dazed Beauty, a new digital platform and print publication I launched this year (for which I serve as editor-in-chief.) Outside of Dazed, I work regularly with fashion, beauty and luxury brands, mainly creating video content and helping to strategise their creative direction for digital. 

“My work normally involves having to come up with lots of ideas on demand!”

What does a typical working day look like? 
I am in and out of various meetings across the multiple titles and departments I work with. Those might be split between editorial planning, creative development, catch-ups or briefings on specific projects, or one-to-ones with various team members. 

In between meetings, I’m on email or phone duty. When there’s downtime, I work on concept development. Usually that means writing long and rambling word documents with ideas and then some research. 

Mornings are the most productive time for me. I produce content for a digital company, but I always have a few extracurricular projects on the go, which means that work days don’t have an official start and end time. It’s a constant flow of communication across the world, but it doesn’t always feel like work so I’m ok with that. But I'm admin-phobic! So anything with spreadsheets, count me out. I’ll put it off till the last possible second. 

Bunny helped launch Dazed Beauty in 2018

How did you land your current roles?
I became acquainted with key people at Dazed after they had seen some of my work. Over time, we began discussing what a role for me at the company would look like. When we started to talk about the launch of Dazed Beauty, and the new acquisition of Nowness into the Dazed Media Group, it seemed like the ideal time for me to be able to jump onto some very tangible projects as a creative and editorial lead. 

How collaborative is your role? 
Extremely collaborative! I depend on other people to be my eyes, ears and judges of good taste… I make sure I have trusted people working alongside me so they can also be autonomous to make decisions when I’m not around, or when it doesn’t need to involve me directly. But everything is a conversation, a discussion, a compromise.

In media and publishing, multiple viewpoints, input and expertise are needed to make something good. In filmmaking it’s virtually impossible to make a film without the collaboration of many, many people. Writing is perhaps the only solitary part of what I do. But you still need an editor, copyeditor, fact checker and so on.  

The first ever print issue of Dazed Beauty with Kate Moss and Travis Scott

Kylie Jenner for the Dazed Beauty launch issue, by Beauty_GAN and Daniel Sannwald

Kylie Jenner for the Dazed Beauty launch issue, by Beauty_GAN and Daniel Sannwald

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Kylie Jenner for the Dazed Beauty launch issue, by Beauty_GAN and Daniel Sannwald

What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months? 
Launching Dazed Beauty was a huge and exciting undertaking. The project was a collaboration between myself and Isamaya Ffrench, with art direction by Ben Ditto. Jefferson Hack worked very closely with us on the launch, which was digital first and involved working with a huge variety of different digital artists and unconventional image makers.

We’re going to print with our first issue – a limited edition art book – this month. Our mission was to redefine beauty for the digital age, and although the platform is still nascent, it feels like we’re really doing that. 

What skills are essential to your job?
Creativity, patience, collaboration.

“In media and publishing, multiple viewpoints, input and expertise are needed to make something good.”

What tools do you use most for your work? 
Communication skills. The ability to articulate what you need or think; listening to other people, understanding what they need or think; and then communicating that back to other people. If nothing else, I can explain (and re-explain) things pretty well.

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by work, and if so, how do you manage stress?
As I’ve gotten older I’ve become a lot more zen and able to manage stress a bit better. When I get stressed, I take a step back and imagine days, weeks, months, years from this exact moment when whatever’s causing me stress won’t matter that much anymore. It’s good to put things into perspective and take a few deep breaths. 

A film for Coach: ‘After Hours’ with Selena Gomez

A film made while at Vice, for i-D: ‘Worn In’ – featuring Charles Jeffrey Loverboy

How I Got Here

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be a doctor for a long time, actually. But I also always wanted to write, and as I got older I started wanting to make films and was always interested in magazine and media publishing. Creative direction isn’t something I knew existed until I started my career. But it’s a perfect blend of both worlds, especially in the digital media industry.

What influence has your upbringing had on your work?
I moved a lot growing up; I was always new in school and really struggled to fit in. When I hit my early teen years I had what could only be described as a great awakening, and I realised I didn’t want to fit in! It was pure freedom! All of my work communicates a core message and agenda that is informed by this: it’s ok to be an outsider and, more to the point, it’s ok to be whoever you want to be.

“All of my work communicates a core message: it’s ok to be whoever you want to be.”

How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
I have degrees in both film and cultural studies. Both focused on the study of human culture which I think is completely relevant to my work now. Practically speaking, studying film taught me how to develop ideas and put them into action to make movies, media, content, moving images… whatever we’re calling it now! Cultural studies, which is basically the theory of anthropology and media, taught me how to think about what I was saying with those ideas.

What were your first jobs? 
I freelanced a lot when I was first starting out; at magazines, media companies and production companies. That led me to my first full time permanent job at Vice in my early twenties, helping them research and develop documentaries. 

A film for The Fifth Sense, a major project Bunny worked on while at Vice in partnership with i-D and Chanel

Was there anyone in particular that helped your development?
Too many people to name! Jefferson Hack and Alister Mackie at Dazed have been hugely nurturing and helpful in my growth and development, as well as Pegah Farahmand, Al Brown, Vida Toombs and Matt O’Mara with whom I worked closely when we were at Vice

The major project I did with the latter group at Vice in partnership with i-D and Chanel, called The Fifth Sense, was a career-defining moment for me; I learned so much from it. Likewise, launching Dazed Beauty with Jefferson last year was an amazing opportunity and experience. 

“The digital media industry barely existed 10 years ago; we’ve been making it up as we go along and watching it evolve from the frontlines.” 

What skills have you learnt along the way?
Pretty much everything. Nothing quite prepares you for the ‘real world’ like diving headfirst into it! The digital media industry barely existed 10 years ago, so we’ve pretty much been making it up as we go along and watching it evolve from the frontlines. 

What would you say is your biggest ongoing challenge with your work and career?  Doing it all! Balancing the creative with the commercial, and finding time to pursue passion projects alongside the myriad other things that need attending to and pay the bills! Staying focused and motivated and not getting spread too thinly. Not getting stressed out by the small stuff – or the big! 

A film for Margiela: ‘My Mutiny’, featuring Willow Smith

Words of Wisdom

What advice would you give to an emerging creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
Go to school! Develop as a person, develop your interests, tastes and ideas. If you can, travel. Intern as much as you can. Find people who do what you want to do and reach out to them and learn from them. Do your own projects as much as possible – it’s easier than ever now.

Posted 06 February 2019 Interview by Indi Davies
Collection: Creative Lives
Disciplines: Fashion, Publishing, Journalism
Mentions: Bunny Kinney, Dazed, Nowness, Dazed Beauty

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