Wanderlust, adventure, lost, found; these words evoke different feelings, memories and ideas in all of us. While universal, the need to explore our surroundings is deeply personal. For some, it means seeking rest and relaxation, be that lying on a tranquil beach or seeking the solitude of the mountains in a rustic cabin. For others, travel is about pushing the limits and exploring a foreign land with just a backpack, trusty camera and a positive attitude. Regardless of your own ideas about travel, a nudge towards the airport is almost always a welcome one. Enter Tiny Atlas Quarterly (TAQ), the latest publication to fuel our wanderlust. Based in Oakland, California the online magazine (which has plans to take their fourth issue to print) was born out of a network of creatives’ “never-not-working” philosophy, exploring new destinations through various lenses from food to fashion to creativity to just plain adventure.
The strong visual component of the magazine is tied to founder and Editor-in-Chief Emily Nathan‘s career as a professional photographer; channeling her intimate, warm style for national magazines and commercial clients alike. “We’re finding that readers enjoy the way the site is photo-driven—even photo heavy,” Nathan explains. “At the same time we’re learning that the more content we develop for an article, the more interesting it is to produce.” Nathan cites her creative partner and the magazine’s Art Director Liz Mullally as a key player in the magazine’s aesthetic and creative appeal. While TAQ has a strong visual focus, the depth and veracity of its articles matches the storytelling power of its photos.
A recent piece follows San Francisco surfboard shaper Danny Hess on a journey to Nootka Island, a remote destination on Vancouver Island. Hess was contacted by the island’s only surf lodge owner to buy one of his highly sought-after wooden surfboards—Hess suggested a trade instead. Keeping in step with TAQ’s personal feel, Hess’s wife, professional photographer Erin Kunkel shot all of the photos for the story. Holed up in coastal tree houses with bears and seabirds as their neighbors while they share the waves a pod of orcas, this story is evident of TAQ’s knack for making the reader feel part of the journey.
“The story doesn’t necessarily have to be long, but should be substantive; told from an interesting person’s perspective or express a moment,” Nathan says of her editorial process. “Sometimes, it’s the illustration or the art that imbues a unique quality to the piece and it’s not driven by narrative at all. We like to balance it all out and also we really want to provide practical resources, from both a travel and production perspective.” At the end of each feature, the logistics are laid out in a subtle but useful format: Where to stay, how to get there, what gear you’ll need (and want). A consistent feeling throughout each piece is this notion of effortless execution—there is a style, a focus, but it never feels forced or artificial. “We want to inspire readers to embark on their own voyages and, hopefully, they’ll incorporate some of the cool things we’ve found along our journey,” Nathan says of the publication’s intention.
Perhaps less apparent, but nonetheless important, is the site’s design. Minimalist and focused on the content, there are no distractions from the print-worthy photos and thoughtful text in each feature. This makes focusing on the content easy; no ads or external content to distract the reader’s attention. The design of the site was especially important to its success, as Nathan counts designers and user-experience specialists among her close and frequent collaborators. Of the debate between online and print, Nathan sees benefits in both: “We’re nimble online and love the unique nature of our site,” she explains, “But we wanted to go to print to expand our audience and provide something beautiful to keep on the table. Or, to tear apart and put on people’s inspiration boards. We love the flexibility of the web but are smitten with paper, still.”
Visit Tiny Atlas Quarterly online for a wealth of inspiring travel content featuring mushroom foraging, free-diving and more. Keep an eye out for their inaugural print issue this spring.
Images courtesy of Tiny Atlas Quarterly