This week, 19-year-old Norwegian editor and publisher Elise By Olsen (Recens Paper, Wallet) is the guest editor of AnOthermag.com, presenting a series of articles exploring the current and future state of fashion and art publishing. Alongside conversations with publishers, critics and image-makers, this guest edit offers an intimate insight into her own publications and working practice.
My journey into publishing began when I was eight years old and started blogging. People sometimes laugh when I tell them this, but blogging was a very normal thing for a kid of my generation to do. In 2008, we weren’t really active on social media but blogging was something that everybody could access. You could simply create your Blogspot profile and launch your own media platform. I learned a lot about publishing from blogging – from creating a blog, basic coding, content production and marketing, to communicating with my audience, understanding what they wanted and then creating it, expressing what I wanted to say. This was my first encounter with media on a very basic level, but it was my gateway into online publishing.
When I was about 11 or 12, I got into Instagram and that’s when a lot of magic happened. I think my generation has been very good at accessing and creating our own community online. I grew up in the suburbs of Oslo, Norway, and there was not a physical community that I could join, so I made internet friends from all around the world and we started speaking, writing back and forth in group chats. I think this is a defining part of how we’ve come to be as a generation – we’re open and access things that we want to access.
On group chats, I banded together with five other young Scandinavians, each with their own blogs and Instagram profiles. One of us knew a little bit of coding, I knew a little bit of writing and another did photography and video. And that was our micro editorial team. We got together and decided to create a blogging network, a platform where we could all be united that was by and for young people only. At that time, youth-driven projects were not a thing – not just in fashion, but in the world in general – and unlike today, it was unprecedented that teenagers would have any sort of impact in the global cultural conversation. But we wanted to show that we could contribute to this discussion as well, and help define fashion and creativity. So we made a page and called it Archetype, launching it on May 12, 2012 and on the day of the launch, the site went down due to high demand. We had created a framework for young people’s narratives – not just for us, but for a whole generation.
Although Archetype was a huge success, I was soon fed up with short-lived content, click-bait headlines and fast-food journalism – the ‘quantity over quality’ mentality that was standard for online media back then. I missed the tangibility and tactility of print, along with the attention to detail, dedication and patience that went into it. That’s when I decided to devote my time to thinking about the formula for a new contemporary print publication, despite the supposed death of print that people were predicting at the time. For the next seven years I worked only in print, first with my youth culture magazine Recens Paper and then my fashion commentary publication Wallet. I admit that during this time, digital publishing has been a contested term for me, but it’s clear that there’s a real appetite for online publications and that digital media does offer a lot of things for both the publisher and the reader: instant access to a wide range of content, direct and dynamic interaction with an audience and endless technological possibilities. At the end of the day, online publishing sits differently in the media landscape now – artistically, symbolically and even economically – compared to my time at Archetype. There’s a new pace, new programming, new demands, a new rhyme and and a new reason.
In April, I was approached by AnOther Magazine about guest editing their online platform. I was excited to get the opportunity to bring my voice and perspectives to such a broad and visible platform – which exists both in print and online. I have compiled a series of eight texts and conversations where, over the course of the next five days, I will examine the state of fashion media – by talking to publishers, critics and fashion image-makers. Throughout these articles, I ask what it means to write about fashion, art and culture today. I also wanted to use this opportunity to extend my personal publishing practice and create a dossier on today’s fashion publishing climate. And, in a way, this AnOther guest edit is my return to online publishing. From URL to IRL and back to URL.
– Elise By Olsen