BABE #147: MEGAN BREUKELMAN, Creative Producer @ Issuu + Editor-in-Chief @ Atlas Magazine
From her full-time career with Issuu, to her full-time passion project, Atlas Magazine, to her slew of creative personal projects and endeavors, today's babe never stops producing beautiful content. It was a joy to get to chat with her, and learn about the many ways she hustles to make a living by doing the things she loves. (Working full-time while running a publication full-time is something we can also very much relate to.) Thanks for sharing your insight and words of wisdom, Megan! You are the epitome of a hustlin' babe and we could certainly learn a thing or two from you.
Favorite app, website or blog?
Honestly, Issuu.com is my favorite place to get inspired. There are so many talented creators on there and I am constantly coming across inspirational content.
Favorite fictional female character?
Sydney Bristow from Alias. When I was a kid I’d listen to the Alias audiobooks and Jennifer Garner killed the role on TV. She’s the definition of a babe who hustles (and kicks ass).
Go-to power anthem?
Grown Woman - Beyoncé.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
My boyfriend’s bacon alfredo pasta with a side of fried Oreos.
What is something you want to learn or master?
I want to learn web coding someday.
What was your middle school AIM screen name?
Meganlovescheese. Zero regrets.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I feel like Alyson Hannigan and I would have a nice cup of tea together.
Three words to describe yourself?
Empathetic, sleepy, happy.
Tell us about your hustle.
For my full-time job, I work at Issuu doing social media and creative production work. My full-time passion, however, lies in Atlas Magazine, a digital quarterly magazine and daily content site I curate, design and execute. I'm also an avid baker and photographer, which I’ve translated into a blog called Taste & Taste.
What does your typical workday look like?
During the work week, essentially: I wake up, check social media for Issuu, Atlas and my personal channels, then I go through Atlas submission emails before my workday starts. After my work for Issuu ends, I tackle any needs with Atlas and Taste & Taste that might exist, whether that’s uploading upcoming editorials, designing the issue, writing blog posts or tackling a new recipe.
What inspired Atlas Magazine?
Atlas Magazine started in 2012 when my co-founder Olivia Bossert and I essentially woke up one day and decided to start a magazine. I’d met Olivia on a photographers Facebook group and we chatted about the creation of the magazine from there. What started as a fun summer activity quickly became an involved passion project. The magazine ending up in print for a good while in stores in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. I took a break for a few months before taking the reins on the magazine solo last year. (Olivia is currently working as a photographer in the UK and I’m so happy for her!) One of the most important aspects of my vision for Atlas is ensuring positive representation of a diverse fashion community. The other foundational aspect of Atlas is clean and consistent visuals. The baseline “aesthetic” of Atlas Magazine is intentional, well-curated imagery that feeds you creatively.
Tell us about your work at Issuu. How did you get involved there?
I met the team at Issuu when they hosted an event called Generators Camp in 2016. I really enjoyed getting to know the company behind my digital publication and explored opportunities with them a little further down the road. The thing that attracted me most was the company culture—everyone I’d met seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs and their team. I currently work at Issuu doing social media management and creative projects; photo and video content, community events and other opportunities that connect creators.
What is your philosophy on digital vs. print publishing?
Atlas is currently digital, although it ran in print for several issues. Now that it is once again fully digital, I feel I have a lot more freedom with the publication. Don’t get me wrong—print publications are gorgeous. My apartment is filled with print magazines. As a publisher, however, the flexibility of digital publishing allows me a little more wiggle room and a lot less stress. If publishing Atlas were my hustle 24/7, I would certainly explore print options once more, as that kind of feat requires an abundance of time and energy. However, digital publishing allows me to focus my available time and energy wholly on the publication itself, the design, the promotion and keep tabs digitally on its success.
Where does your passion for photography and styling stem from?
I started shooting when I was very young, and was photographing weddings by the time I was fourteen. I went to college to become a fashion photographer, and realized fairly that quickly everyone else did, too. My passion to help talented creatives succeed stemmed from there, and I found myself studying and working in production environments, agency environments and magazines—all outlets to help talented individuals achieve their goals. The underlying theme that ties everything I do together is a drive to help creatives achieve.
Tell us about Taste & Taste.
I’ve been telling myself to make a blog for years. Not Atlas—just something of my own. When I started really immersing myself in baking and exploring what I could do with recipes, I had enough people reach out and tell me to start a blog that it motivated me to just do it. I put out two posts a week; a recipe and a business, lifestyle or photography post. It’s a creative outlet entirely about my own work, life and experiences. Having that kind of outlet is something I’d been missing for a few years. I wasn’t in college anymore, a place where you’re constantly creating and receiving feedback. My jobs are about the work of other creatives, which I love. Even Taste & Taste in a sense is about helping others succeed; the posts I write on business and life are for the benefit of the creatives who read them, the recipes are for the benefit of those who use them. But having that creative outlet is to my benefit in the sense that I have a space that truly is mine to work with.
How have your past internships, education and work experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
I am lucky to have completed my education at the School of Visual Arts, a college that provides the opportunity to study under working professionals, a flexible schedule, and, if you choose the right courses, a career-focused curriculum. I studied under curators, editors and working artists who all provided valuable insight and taught relevant courses. But school isn’t everything. I tell every up-and-comer who asks my advice to start interning as soon as you can. The most relevant experience you will ever get is by throwing yourself directly into the fire. I also look at internships as try-before-you-buy for careers; had I not had the experiences of working in so many different facets of the fashion and photography industry, I would have entered the working world without an understanding of the greater picture. (I also would have been a lot more afraid of phone calls.)
How have they not prepared me?
You will never be fully prepared for anything in life. The most experienced editors, producers, artists—they all have hiccups, too. I think it’s important to embrace every “oh no” moment. I think what I was most unprepared for when shifting from Atlas and internships to my “grown-up” career was the sheer amount of responsibility. People aren’t necessarily depending on you when you’re an intern; your work may be invaluable, but there is nothing dependent on you. I think with Atlas, the artists involved are dependent on the magazine getting published or their work getting posted, but there are no tragedies involved with mistakes on your own projects.
How much collaboration goes into every new issue of Atlas?
Each issue of Atlas is filled with the work of contributors of both visuals and writing. Atlas receives anywhere from 50 to 100 submissions per day, so the magazine is very reliant on the contributors and those interviewed still wanting to collaborate with Atlas. When it comes down to the design though… that’s me, with the occasional screenshot texted to a friend going, “is this trash!?”
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
I honestly don’t feel like anything I’ve done has been a milestone, but rather a stepping stone. Every move I have made in my career has felt like a milestone—when I dropped out of college for a year and got an internship with Elite Model Management, that was a milestone. Seeing Atlas in Barnes & Noble for the first time was a milestone. When I worked at a small photography agency in New York and learned production, that was a milestone. My first job producing for styling artists at Art + Commerce was a milestone. Deciding to run Atlas alone was a milestone. Everything adds up in the bigger picture of things. I prefer to look at it that way, rather than thinking solely about the biggest moments. At the end of the day, it’s about the journey and not the destination.
How has being a woman has affected your professional experience?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in positions that don’t typically experience the same gender biases many women are faced with. Every team I’ve worked with thus far has been like-minded and respectful, regardless of identity. That being said, I think it’s also important for women like me to recognize that although one woman may not face gender bias, she must recognize that women of color (or folks who do not identify as cis-gender) may not have the same experience.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
I call it the “juggle struggle.” The reality is, everyone who is juggling and prioritizing their career and creative passions over anything else is (hopefully) very happy with the work they are doing, but they are also probably very tired. I like to think that there’s a triangle of needs—personal, health and career—and if I’m succeeding in at least two, I’m doing okay.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
Feeling not good enough. There’s a quote that actually changed my view on life: “Life starts where comparison ends.” I fully subscribe to that thought. I have a hard time believing when people say one small thing changed their outlook, but it’s funny what a few words can do. It takes a really long time to overcome that feeling as a creative person, but if you can manage to break through that doubt, one day at a time, you’re doing fine. I think there’s a difference between healthy comparison (e.g. “This succeeds for this reason; how can I improve?”) and outright comparison (e.g. “Why isn’t mine like that? Theirs is so much better.”)
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
Joanna Coles, chief content officer at Hearst Magazines / Amy Odell, author of “Tales from the Back Row” / Rachel Bloom (not in my field, oops), writer and star of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”.
What’s your ultimate dream job?
Is “Martha Stewart” a job? Seriously, though—to be able to create content across all possible mediums around something you love, like Martha did, is the dream.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Don’t be afraid to send that email, make that call, write that post. Put yourself out there unapologetically. Make the connections yourself, because there are few times when those connections will magically appear. And, of course, be grateful when they do.
What motivates and inspires you?
The work of other creatives. Music, photography, film, writing—all of the above. Otherwise? Cold weather. I’m much happier in the cold.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Contrary to popular advice, you don’t have to say yes to every opportunity. Take the time to evaluate what’s best for you in your current situation. Some opportunities can be delayed, some can be denied. Think of your fulfillment first.