Throughout his turn at the helm of the American edition of GQ, editor-in-chief Jim Nelson has secured the magazine’s position as one of the leading men’s titles within the industry, boasting over 46 National Magazine Awards for the publication. Honoured in areas such as photography and feature writing, in 2008 the publication was also awarded with the ‘General Excellence’ accolade, recognised as the most prestigious award within the industry. From his appointment to the role in 2003, Nelson has been credited with asserting the magazines tone as a respected men’s publication, steering away from traditional men’s magazine formulae and featuring instead on-topic political stories and fashion forward editorials shot by the likes of Bruce Weber , Terry Richardson , David Bailey and Richard Avedon. In September 2018 it was announced Nelson will step down from his post in December, to be succeeded by Will Welch.
An alumnus of Notre Dame University, where he pursued a degree in American Studies, Nelson first foray into journalism began at the D.C. bureau of CNN, researching current affairs and news. Later moving to Los Angeles, the writer began working as an assistant on scripts for low-grade comedy sit-coms, before being offered a chance to scout stories for the ‘Readings’ section of Harper’s magazine. Interested in furthering his career within magazines, Nelson secured an internship position in the New York office of Harper’s, steadily working his way up to editor of the ‘Readings’ section. The journalist first joined GQ in 1997 as senior editor, editing the work of writers such as Elizabeth Gilbert and Charles Bowden under Art Cooper, becoming executive editor in 2002.
Nelson’s own writing has appeared in publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Gourmet, and Food & Wine and was also featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2001 book written by Bud Collins.