Meet the Curators: Rucksack Magazine
We checked in with Mirko and Laura, the curators of photography and adventure journal RuckSackMag, to hear about their journey and their plans for the future.
Mirko and Laura published their first printed volume of the RuckSackMag back in October 2017, titled the Winter Issue. We were very excited to get our hands on a copy, and weren’t disappointed when it arrived.
The journal transformed our perception of winter, from being the dreary, dark season we think of it as in the UK, to a winter wonderland, filled with crazy Arctic Surfers and the iconic scenes of Lapland. We were keen to hear about their inspiration for Rucksack and what’s in store for volume 2.
So, tell us a bit about yourselves. We’re curious to know what initially inspired you to start Rucksack Magazine.
Mirko: I have always wanted to start something that allows me to be creative. I combined this with my passion for adventure, discovery and exploration and looked to create a community through which I could share this. I have always loved photography and I think the development of the magazine stemmed from this. We both spend a large part of our spare time working on the magazine and the online journal, but as they are both a result of our own creation, it doesn’t feel like work and is something we gain a lot of enjoyment from.
Laura: We both work in careers with no connection whatsoever to the magazine industry, so I use the online journal as a form of creative outlet. I wanted to design and establish something myself, and to re-connect with what was truly important to me. As the online journal grew and we started to receive such a high level of contributions, we realised we had the potential to grow into a printed magazine. We made the decision to progress into print, and it took off from there. The whole process can be extremely time consuming, but, as it is something we both love and feel so passionately about, it has become of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
On reflection, how do you feel your first issue went down? Did you receive any interesting feedback?
Mirko: When I think back to it, the process of putting Volume 1 together has become a bit of blur. Neither of us had a clue what we were doing, so we had to learn and pick things up as we went along. As it was our first venture into printing a magazine we had pretty low expectations as to how it would be received. We ran a small print run, fully expecting the magazines to still be piled up in boxes in our flat a year later. We had no idea the magazine would sell so quickly, or that so many shops would be interested in stocking it. We couldn’t believe it when we started to receive such kind words about the magazine; it is one thing to hear lovely comments from friends and family, but when you hear it from a complete stranger you realise that you can really be proud of what you have created.
Laura: I remember whilst we were in the process of putting Volume 1 together, we would go into some of our favourite magazine shops in Soho and Covent Garden and talk about how amazing it would be if one of them stocked even a couple of copies. A month later they all did, and going into those shops and seeing ‘The Winter Issue’ on the shelf was just such an incredible feeling. Each time we received an email notification telling us someone had purchased another magazine online we couldn’t believe it. On the day we actually sold out we were in absolute disbelief – we couldn’t believe it had happened so quickly, and that so many people wanted to read something we had created. It is not a feeling I think I will ever forget.
When will Rucksack Magazine’s second edition be published and what can we expect to see in it?
Mirko: Volume 2 – ‘The Journey Issue’ is out now, and is available to order from our website (www.rucksackmag.com). We have made quite a few design changes this time around, and I tried to take all that I learnt from the process of creating the first magazine to improve the second one. In Volume 2, we explore the forgotten magic of the journey, celebrating the simple pleasure to be found in movement. I feel that, in today’s world, where we are able to arrive at our planned destination so quickly and with so much ease, we are constantly wishing the process of the journey away, when really, the journey should be the most exciting start to any adventure. Hopefully, this is what we have captured within the pages of Volume 2.
Laura: I actually found Volume 2 a lot harder to finalise than Volume 1. I think it was because we both felt we wanted to improve on the first issue so much, and decided to make so many changes that we managed to create a lot more work for ourselves. So rather than the process being easier, like I thought it would be, it actually ended up taking a lot longer. I hope that what we have created is something special; as with Volume 1, we were so lucky to be able to work with such incredible creatives, and their photography and words are stunning. It is definitely the contributors who make the magazine what it is, and without them it wouldn’t exist.
What is the most unusual place you have travelled to?
Mirko: I think the most unusual place would have to be The Gobi Desert. I found Mongolia to be a land of complete contrast; from the beautiful lakes and forests to the desolate plains of the desert. We stayed in a Ger Tent and arrived there after spending days stuck on a train travelling across Siberia. I kind of lost track of time on board that train and it was strange to be standing on solid ground in what felt like, and probably was, the middle of nowhere. It was an experience I don’t think I will ever forget, but the journeys you have to work hardest for always seem to be the most memorable.
Laura: For me it would be arriving in Bagan, Myanmar in the middle of the night. We stepped off this gigantic, empty coach into the darkness. There were no street lights, so we just sort of stood in the mud with our backpacks on wondering what to do. We literally couldn’t see anything, and then this man arrived and told us he had a taxi, so we pointed at a random guest house in our Lonely Planet and followed him, thinking he would drive us there. His taxi turned out to be a cow-driven wooden cart. It was such a bizarre experience, but then we woke up the next morning to bright sunlight and were surrounded by these amazing temples and not much else. It was a beautiful place, and we were pretty much the only people there which made it even more spectacular.
What are the main channels you use for creative inspiration? Does Instagram feature as one of these?
Mirko: Our flat is stacked full of magazines – we literally have piles of them everywhere. I have always loved printed magazines, even when I was much younger I subscribed to National Geographic. There is something special about the smell of a new magazine, and the ability to flick through the pages, gaining inspiration from the photography and stories inside. As the independent magazine industry grew I started to read more and more publications; I love Monacle magazine, their cafes and radio station – listening to it has become a part of my morning. I am finding Drift magazine to be such a beautiful publication, and I love the editorial style and content of Cereal. With regards to Instagram, my current favourites would have to be our cover photographer for Volume 2; Nick Bondarev (@nickbondarev), Icelandic based photographer, who we have interviewed for our online journal, Donal Boyd (@donalboyd) and Christian Watson (@1924house) from 1924.
Laura: From a writer’s perspective, I would have to say that Drift magazine is a huge source of inspiration. I love how they explore each city with such thoughtfulness and depth of insight, and I find the way in which they write about the people and places captivating. They breathe life into the theme of coffee, and have taken a whole new approach to a topic which is so popular at the moment. I also find running magazine Like the Wind to be a really inspiring read – they have explored the theme of running so well, using a whole variety of perspectives. I think everyone these days is inspired by what they see on Instagram – it’s just important to use it correctly.
If you could go anywhere next week where would it be and why? Do you already have any exciting upcoming travel plans?
Mirko: My ultimate destination would have to be Antarctica; that truly would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am so intrigued to experience the environment there; the wildlife and the desolation of the landscape. I think it is the fact that it is so untouched by mankind which makes it so appealing – it is the last of the unexplored wilderness. We are heading off to the Faroe Islands in a couple of weeks and I am so excited about this trip – I have been intrigued by these islands for a long time and can’t wait to go and explore them.
Laura: For me, a road trip is the ultimate adventure; I don’t think you can beat hiring a car or camper van and just setting off on the road without a set destination in mind. It is not a feeling I have been able to experience on other trips. I would hire a 4×4 and head out into the wilder parts of Canada; I think that country is somewhere I would not want to return from. The lakes, the mountains, the forests – they are my absolute ideals.
Now for our final question: give us some inside knowledge, tell us what direction are you looking to take Rucksack Magazine?
Mirko: In all honesty, we are not 100% set on the magazine’s exact destination. We have increased the print run for Volume 2 and our list of stockists has also grown, so hopefully we will be able to extend the reach of the magazine. I remember when we were putting Volume 1 together, we didn’t know if we would make it to Volume 2, and now we are about to begin planning for Volume 3, so hopefully the magazine will continue to sell, and continue to be well received. The online journal is an important feature for us; it connects us with a wider range of creatives than if we were just a printed magazine. We also use it for inspiration when planning themes for future issues, so it is definitely something we want to look into developing further.
Laura: I think we are just enjoying the process of being able to design and create at the moment. Printing the magazine has been such a rewarding experience, so it is definitely something we want to continue to do. We would love to grow the magazine to the point where it is recognised as an independent publication known for showcasing beautiful content through high quality editorial design. One thing we are certain about is that it is a platform for visual and written storytelling.
It was great talking to Mirko and Laura, and I hope you enjoyed hearing from them as much as we did. Rucksack Magazine is available online now.