In Conversation With Olivia Bossert Founder Of Atlas Magazine

Atlas Magazine is an quarterly fashion and photography publication that aims to showcase the image-making talents of a global community of creatives. It seems to have blown up overnight, with a Kickstarter campaign aiding a sudden leap into print, and a subsequent boom in its following turning heads all over the world.

Atlas was founded in 2012 by Megan Breukelman and Olivia Bossert. After nurturing a creative online friendship from either side of the Atlantic, the two began developing the first issue of Atlas, beginning the magazine’s journey. With Megan based in North America and Olivia in Europe, the two founders met in person just last year, in a bid to take Atlas to the next level.

I caught up with Olivia to discover more about what it takes to launch a globally-adored publication, how to become a media entrepreneur in your 20s, and how to seek out joy in small things, wherever you are…

Tell us a little about Atlas…

Atlas Magazine is an inspirational and promotional fashion magazine. We create a platform for fashion creatives to get their work seen and express themselves. We get work every single day from people all around the world who are so incredibly talented, but aren’t necessarily being given the chance to be shown off. It’s all about giving people a chance. We heavily feature fashion photography, but look into all aspects of fashion, beauty and the industry as a whole. It’s a magazine for people who want to be inspired either by amazing imagery, or by the stories of incredible people that we publish.

What prompted you to create a physical magazine?

Printed magazines have always been a part of my life. Ever since the age of 13 when I got my first copy of Teen Vogue, I’ve been hooked. I still am to be honest, I buy way too many magazines. There’s something so satisfying about being able to flick through a beautifully produced magazine.

Atlas was purely online for two and a half years, which was brilliant, but creative people, especially photographers, want to be able to hold their work in their hands. It makes it feel real. That love for physical objects just isn’t going anywhere, it’s here to stay. And I’m not gonna lie, getting Atlas in print was definitely a bit of a selfish desire too. I wanted to be able to hold it in my hands, just like the photographers.

How did you launch Atlas and what do you hope to achieve with the publication?

Atlas was launched almost three years ago by myself and my friend, Megan Breukelman. We became friends through the photography community online, and just began chatting about our love for magazines. Without much thought, we just did it. It was never meant to be anything more than a fun project for us to get creative with. But little by little, our following grew, and when I was nearing the end of my university degree, all I wanted to do was work on Atlas. So I managed to secure a grant, we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and went to print.

It was scary, but so far, it’s been 100% worth it. The response has been incredible. I really want people to feel inspired by Atlas. That’s the main goal here. It’s to inspire and to get people out there. I’ve always said that if a photographer published in Atlas landed a huge job because of us, my job would be done. It would probably just make me want to achieve that 10 times over too.


What do your printed issues explore and who do they promote?

Each issue of Atlas has a different theme. We tell everyone what it is, and let them interpret it how ever they like. Atlas is created by a small team of people. Jessica Bailey is our brilliant graphic designer who joined us at the start of the print process. Up until that point it had been either Megan or myself designing it.

Jessica has completely changed the look and feel of the magazine. We wouldn’t be where we are right now without her. We’ve also got two new editors, Jasmin Rauha, who is now in charge of our web content and blog, and Paris Richardson, who writes regularly for the blog and the magazine itself. It’s a small but very effective team. Of course, the magazine would be nothing without the contributors. They’re all part of the team as well.

What inspires you and how do you stay motivated to keep doing great things?

I genuinely stay inspired by the incredible work we receive in our inbox every day. I’m always so impressed with the amount of talent that there is out there. I also love films and watch endless amounts. I read too many magazines as well. That helps. Motivation is a funny one. Most of the time, I don’t realise I’m working on Atlas. It’s just a part of me. It’s what I do. I love it so much.

Of course, there are days when it’s tough. I worry about finances. I worry about whether I have any idea what I’m doing, and just like everyone else out there, I worry about what people think. If that worry does start to creep in, I go for a walk, head to the gym, or a beautiful editorial comes in and I forget all my concerns.

Why, in your opinion, is creativity important?

The world was built on creativity. We would be no where without it. If people weren’t creative, we’d still be stuck in the stone age. I’m not saying that Atlas is going to be what urges someone to invent a method of time travel, but creativity is what spurs people to imagine great things, to try things, to invent things. Every element around you has been created or designed by someone. Without creativity we’re nothing.

What are some of your greatest influences? 

I’m the biggest Baz Luhrmann fan ever. All of his films are beautiful. I’ve been a passionate follower of Rosie Hardy ever since she started working, and I still think she’s a huge inspiration to everyone out there who’s creative. She’s always writing such inspiring blog posts, those certainly keep me motivated. Paolo Roversi is an all time favorite photographer of mine. I think Dolce & Gabanna is incredible, and I know I’m repeating myself here but all the contributors of Atlas. I love them and they keep me so inspired.

Tell us about your workspace, your processes, and how you get stuff done… 

My workspace is my laptop. The incredible thing about the internet is that you can create from anywhere. I travel a fair bit because I grew up in Switzerland and my parents still live there, so I go see them a lot. I don’t really have a place that I go to think. I’m always thinking and I can’t switch my brain off at all. If I need to stop working for a bit and relax, like, if I’m having an epically stressful, bad bad day, I like to cook, bake, watch a film or work out. These things calm me down.

Being Swiss, I’m OCD organised; we’re known for it. I have to get things done a week before deadline (sometimes to the frustration of my team) because I’m paranoid about things going wrong, but so far, it seems to work in our favour.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of how far we’ve come in such a short time. I’m proud that we’ve dared to do this in a time when everyone says it’s impossible. I’m proud that even though we’re all terrified, we’re still trying. Most of all I’m proud that people all around the world are picking up Atlas and feeling inspired by it.

Do you have any advice for young creatives?

Just do it… hashtag Nike. Seriously though, if Megan and I had thought to ourselves ‘No one will read it! We have no idea what we’re doing! We’re gonna suck!’ we’d never have learnt everything that we have today. We’d never have made the mistakes we didn’t even know we were making. Don’t worry about the outcome. Just give things a go. Whatever it is you want to do, be it. A photographer, a writer, a designer, a graphic designer, a singer, a blogger… just get out there and do it.

What’s next for Atlas – any exciting news?

We’ve just launched our second issue of Atlas, The Adrenaline Issue, in print in the UK and on smartphones and tablets. We’ve worked so hard on it, and I think it’s beautiful. We’re getting a lot of amazing feedback from it, and I can’t wait to get even more as it’s only been out a few days. We’re working on the summer and autumn issues already as well and let’s just say, there are plenty of reasons to get excited.