Contributing Editor at Vogue Living, Australian David Prior, isn’t afraid of taking risks. Not speaking a word of Italian, he left Sydney at the age of 24 to become the first Australian to study at the world’s only food university, Italy’s University of Gastronomic Studies. “Basically I have a suitcase and that’s it in my life. I don’t have a lot to lose,” he says.
From there he has travelled every continent and now lives in California, where he writes, curates, and provides creative direction for a number of international publications including Vogue Living, NOWNESS, Cuisine, delicious, The Atlantic online, GQ, San Francisco Chronicle and Architectural Digest and corporate clients. “I am lucky that I’ve succeeded more often than I’ve failed (for now!), but what is life without taking a chance?” he says.
For the past three years David has been working for iconic American restaurateur Alice Waters as Director of Communications at her restaurant Chez Panisse and non-profit the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, California. He is hoping for his next challenge he can carve out his own niche.
“The media landscape is changing dramatically and brands still want and need to get their messages out in the best way. With my editorial and strategic communications background, I really think there is an opportunity to work together with companies on some really high quality and inspirational content. I have some really interesting collaborations in the works in exactly that vein and also some new editorial coming out soon in the US and Australia,” David says.
David says that his willingness to work hard and to be open to advice from others has taught him a lot and recommends for others looking for a career in his industry, to really know your subject well and to be willing to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.
“Some particular individuals have always been really supportive. I’ve been fortunate,” he says. David names mentors including Alice Waters and Australian stylist Megan Morton, who have both been extraordinarily generous. “One of the biggest lessons I learnt from Megan is that you have to just give it away’,” David says, “In my industry it’s so easy to be a lone ranger, to hold on to things – like your contacts and your skills.”
“Megan taught me that you have to be secure in yourself. The more generous you are, the more generous people will be in return, and be willing to help you out, to give you advice and support you along the way,” David says.
“My number one piece of advice from Alice is that it is always better to ask for forgiveness than permission!” he laughs.
His editor at Vogue Living has also been a champion of David and his work. “David [David Clark, Editor-in-chief] lets me go and tell the stories I want to tell – within parameters, of course. While other writers plan an itinerary and schedule everything they think they want to write about, I like to really immerse myself in the country… and see what happens. It can be hair-raising at times but ultimately I think it makes for something richer and more authentic. I like to try and tell real stories, off the normal PR trail".
And while Australia will always be there, for the moment, the US is where the right opportunities are.
“Traditionally, I think Australian magazines have had a creative advantage. Publishers work in smaller teams, which allow the creativity of individuals and smaller groups to shine through. Australia has some of the most creative minds and typically our publications have a really strong reputation internationally.”
“With the changing media landscape, however, the US is beginning to adapt well. US publications are becoming more resilient and innovative and they want to make it work. Working with magazines in Australia has taught me to become incredibly resourceful, I write, produce and art direct all of my work so that has equipped me well for this moment in time. Though challenging, I think that in many ways this uncertainty allows for more, not less, creativity and therefore opportunities” he says, “Also the market here is much bigger, which is exciting to be a part of.”
David has launched his new website, PRIOR for hire and PRIOR stories, an online journal of his travels and observations. It will soon include a blog and an interactive map with David's tips from his favourite places around the world.
We can't wait.
DAVID PRIOR is an internationally published writer and a creative director and curator. He is a Contributing Editor at Vogue Living, contributes to NOWNESS and writes ‘postcards’, a popular monthly recipe column in delicious magazine. His editorial work has appeared in Australia, Europe, the United States and Asia, in Vogue Living, NOWNESS, Cuisine, delicious, The Atlantic online, GQ, San Francisco Chronicle and Architectural Digest amongst others. For three years he lived in Piedmont, Italy attending the University of Gastronomic Science in Bra, Italy on scholarship. The Sydney Morning Herald, Elle, Marie Claire Italia, BBC Food Programme and the Courier Mail have profiled David’s unique career and experience.