Cincy Chic: You serve as managing editor of the locally-based Popular Woodworking Magazine, so how did your career lead to this publication?
Megan Fitzpatrick, managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine: I started my career at F+W Media (PWM‘s parent company) as an advertising and direct marketing copywriter, after earning an M.A. degree in English literature.
But after six years in our Creative Services department, I was ready for a new wordsmithing challenge, so I was delighted to be asked to join PWM (which is actually a consumer magazine, aimed primarily at amateur woodworkers) as an editor. As soon as I walked into our woodworking shop, I knew I wanted to do more than simply edit stories. I wanted to learn how to build so I could also write them.
Cincy Chic: What have been some of the more interesting skills or tidbits you’ve learned on the job?
Fitzpatrick: I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from a number of respected woodworkers, all of whom have shared their knowledge with me and taught me myriad ways to go about the design and building process for a range of furniture styles. For example, I built a large Shaker-inspired stepback cupboard for my living room, and for every joint in it, I know at least three ways to go about the process — which is incredibly valuable knowledge for any woodworker, as it means one is not limited to one specific set of tools or approach.
Cincy Chic: This is for our Creativity issue, so how do you get to express creativity in what you do?
Fitzpatrick: We’re tasked with designing and building pieces that will appeal to not only ourselves, but to as many as possible of our 155,000+ readers (or at least intrigue them with the techniques used). So, we have the challenge of finding a healthy balance of our creative sensibilities and personal aesthetics with those of our readers, as we get to build something (hopefully!) beautiful. I’ve been able to design, build and write about furniture pieces intended for my home then receive pictures from readers of their own finished projects based on my articles. It’s quite rewarding.
Cincy Chic: What else should Cincy Chic readers know about you and your position at Popular Woodworking Magazine?
Fitzpatrick: I’d like readers to know that women are welcome in woodworking — despite the field being dominated by men. I’m the smallest person in our shop, yet I routinely build the largest pieces, and they are specifically suited and sized to my home environment. I encourage women to take a woodworking class, read woodworking magazines and acquire up a good set of tools. While it’s nice to buy a good piece of furniture, it’s far more rewarding to build it yourself. I just wish I had less time spent at my desk and more hours in the shop.
Cincy Chic: When you’re not working around wood, what do you like to do for fun?
Fitzpatrick: I don’t know that you’d call it "fun," per se, but I’ve been slowly renovating my 1895 Northside home. Right now, I’m trying to design the perfect kitchen without making any major structural changes to the space. And, having finished coursework and passed my qualifying exams some time ago, I’m working on a dissertation in early modern drama. Fun, no?!
Cincy Chic: What do you love most about Cincinnati?
Fitzpatrick: I’m charmed by the hills, and the resulting street system seemingly absent of any logical grid. It often causes me to get lost, which leads to discovering new places. And it’s in large part because of the hillsides that there are so many lovely old trees. I’m impressed with the many extant period buildings, and the fact that one can buy a Victorian house for such a small sum.
We have a theatre company dedicated to performing Shakespeare — what’s not to love about that?! And Findlay Market (Kroeger & Sons Meats in particular) should be declared a national treasure.
Photo courtesy of Megan Fitzpatrick