Archives: November 2012

Pink Iceland

We met with entrepreneurs in Pink Iceland on a whisky Monday morning, in 101 Reykjavík to discuss the first locally gay travel and events company,Pink Iceland. Experts Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange, Birna Hrönn Björnsdóttir and Hannes Páll Pálsson, are a trio who work for and with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. Their company specializes in day tours, weddings, events and festivals and specially organized trips with a gay flair. They poured us some nice coffee, while we asked them about the concept, the events and trips, and their future plans of making Iceland Pink for life.

When did Pink Iceland become a reality?

Eva María: We started out in March 2011; I had been carrying this idea around in my head for a long time prior, years even. I had been studying tourism at the University and had a full time job so; there wasn’t any time to go all in with the idea. Last year we decided to participate in the Golden Egg entrepreneurship competition held in Iceland and that gave us the boost to evolve the idea and the business plan even further.

We were chosen the third best project of around 150 that participated. We started out the two of us, me and Birna, but we had been taking this role to be hosts and guides for many years before we started running a professional company. I started to be full time this year, and Birna part time, alongside with her studies to become a nurse. Hannes joined the team last summer.

“we are all multitaskers and we work together as a whole”

Do you have specific roles and titles in Pink Iceland?

Birna Hrönn: Well, you could say that we are all multitaskers and we work together as a whole.

Eva María: In small companies like ours, we all work very closely on the tasks and as we are building the company up, we of course sometimes work around the clock. Our job is also our passion. But I am the one that has the overview over our operation as a whole, and I have experience in marketing as well. I am the CEO and the marketing director of Pink Iceland.

Hannes Páll: I am a graphic designer and an event planner beforehand, but yes as they said we are all working very closely together on all tasks. We rather place emphasis on our brand, than us three as individuals in Pink Iceland. Our vision is very well established on our website, this certain personality that we in want to present out there in the big world.

Birna Hrönn: I have to have a title as well; maybe mine is the Wedding planner? But yes the brand and the pink in Pink Iceland is very political because it is referring to the pink upside down triangle that was used in Hitler’s concentration camps to label gay people. The triangle has ever since been used as a sign for gay right campaigns. We decided to use this heritage for our marketing material, because gay people instantly connect to the meaning, because it it’s not the classical rainbow that is banned in some countries.

Eva María: Yes, and then we use the name Iceland as a location beneficiary, so hence our brand Pink Iceland. If we look at our expansion possibilities in the future we can brand our concept by using the location, for example if we start operating in Denmark we would call it Pink Denmark.

So pink is a clever choice?

Eva María: In the gay culture, there is a concept I have to mention that is often referred to as the Pink economy. Our people do not necessarily connect the concept to femininity, but rather to this historical reference and the currency of the “pink dollar”. This means that business is being made with stores or companies that are gay friendly, sometimes stores give discounts to those who mention that they are Pink in one way or another.

“when we are welcoming foreign guests, we are also inviting them into our lives in a way”

You are a very small company, how is that going?

Eva María: Me and Birna are a couple, and therefore we spend a lot of time together. People frequently ask us, isn’t it risky to work together in your own company? But we are not at all worried, because the events and the concept of this company mirror our lifestyle in general. So when we are welcoming foreign guests, we are also inviting them into our lives in a way. It is also because the gay scene here in Iceland is not that big, so sometimes we invite our guests to join us for parties that are held by our friends, families or acquaintances.

Hannes Páll: Yes, Pink Iceland is a service company, so that somehow goes hand in hand with representing the gay culture locally. The three of us are best friends, so we are happy to invite people in our world here in Iceland on a personal service level.

“couples are experiencing recognition of their human rights when they get married here”

So, I hear that you offer wedding services for gay people here in Iceland?

Hannes Páll: The couples that come here are so happy with visiting a society that is so free and welcoming towards them. For us each experience is so precious, and we get to be a part of joyful and heartfelt moments of these people’s lives. It’s not always about complications and the legal standpoint in our guest’s home countries towards gay marriage that causes couples to come here to Iceland to get married. It’s more about the acceptance and the feeling of acceptance that people experience here. These couples are experiencing recognition of their human rights when they get married here, that is an invaluable feeling for them and for us of course as well. In our opinion, this is a strong marketing standpoint for Pink Iceland and generally for Iceland as a country.

Birna Hrönn: Our clients are so thankful, sometimes they leave us something really nice, Indian teas, murals, Canadian seasoning, a toy Coala bear and this and that, as a token of their gratitude they show us after the adventure of planning these peoples weddings.

Aside from the weddings, what requests do you get?

Eva María: People who want to visit Iceland approach us and our service interface is pre- planned so we can assure all guest that the “gay friendly” attitude of our services is secured. Sometimes the little things can seem annoying to travellers, for example if you are checking yourself in to a hotel with a partner, you are always asked if you want to change your booking to separate beds.

Hannes Páll: Yes, in that kind of situations the person has the feeling that he/or she has to come out, constantly. So we have notified our collaboratives beforehand, so the travelling experience will somehow be smoother for our guests. So the business is “gay friendly” beforehand.

Is this business model you offer popular in Scandinavia?

Eva María: We don’t know of many businesses like ours in Scandinavia. Well, gay tourism is always very bound to where it is located. That is why it is very popular for gay people to go on cruises because you are just living freely, in a protected environment out on the open sea where guests can be sure they won’t be assaulted for kissing their spouses and that the vacation is predejuce – free. Iceland is somehow like these gay cruises, it’s a great environment and people can be just like they are here.

“we are very happy to produce gay advertisements, for they are not so common in the world”

Birna Hrönn: This is why we want to portray a very strong message with our marketing material, we hire photographers that take photos of two boys or two girls enjoying themselves on our known locations on offer, for example in the Blue lagoon. So we are very happy to produce gay advertisements, for they are not so common in the world.

So, how is it to operate in Reykjavík?

Eva María: Operating in Reykjavík is fantastic, we work with Samtökin ´78, the National Queer Organization and the Reykjavík Gay Pride to make Reykjavík city the most gay friendly destination it can be. The last time I went to a conference where all the gay prides in the world meet up, people were so surprised that the mayor of Reykjavík would be so openly supportive of the gay community. And I just thought, well yeah, he dresses up in drag on our Gay pride and wears costumes to support Pussy Riot and what not…! This also reminds us on how far we are on our way for equality, even though we have a long way to go. Thirty years ago we were so far behind, so the society has been evolving very quickly here in Iceland.

Hannes Páll: This is exactly the reason why we are not operating in a low profile context, we offer an integrational service, we are not hiding offering services that are presented in a low profile way. We are proud and open in Pink Iceland!

What event has been the highlight for Pink Iceland so far?

Birna: I think we can all agree that we could mention the IGLA 2012 championship, a international gay and lesbian swimming competition where over 500 gay swimmers came here to Iceland last spring. They competed in swimming, synchronised swimming, dives and water polo to name a few categories. This was the biggest international swimming contest ever held in Iceland and the Icelandic water polo team competed for the first time in 41 years as a result. The dive competition in Sundhöllin was divine; it was amazing to see the diving divas on a roll. Actually, the situation was kind of surreal, there were 500 fit men, the swimmers were mostly male, from all over world walking the streets of Reykjavík openly gay without complications. It was so beautiful. Then we hosted a party in the Blue Lagoon, where we were the DJ´s and yes it was a great experience that we will never forget.

You won an award the other day here in Iceland?

Eva María: Yes, Pink Iceland received the 2012 Innovation award from the Travel Industry Association. The award was presented to us by the President of Iceland, and I couldn’t agree more with president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson when mentioned in his speach that Icelanders tend to look at themselves from the inside and not always with the traveller’s eyes. But if we place ourselves in the shoes of gay people of the world, Iceland is a paradise on earth. We are used to be free here, but it is not at all the case in some other countries. We were so proud of our passion, which is to make Iceland a gay location in the tourist industry worldwide.

What has Pink Iceland to offer that you would like to mention?

Hannes Páll: We offer these Pink City walks, where we guide people around Reykjavík, telling stories about the gay history and the highpoints of Reykjavik city in general. We also host the International LGBT Winter festival, Rainbow Reykjavík, that will be held next in February. I recommend our website, you can “read all about it” there!

Eva María: We will also be running Pink December, another winter festival, for the first time. The concept is that it doesn’t matter when in December you will be travelling here, we will always provide a cultural experience for the guests. Especially when people travel alone, we are very open to plan things with little time in advance. We offer Eurovision concerts, Icelandic cuisine; daytrips and we introduce our guests to Icelandic cultural elements. We also want to play a little with humour so we offer two guides, well two old ladies in drag Dídí and Dúa, that are always trying to find spouses for their imaginary gay grandsons.

Birna Hrönn: I also want to mention our Pink parties that we plan on hosting several times each year, we hosted one around Iceland Airwaves and the next one will be held in relation to Rainbow Reykjavík. We want to strengthen the gay party scene in Reykjavík.

How is with your clients, do the often become your friends?

Birna Hrönn: Yes they quite often do, there is a special bond that we form with many of them. Our Pink guests are also making friends from within the group, for example through the Rainbow Reykjavík festival and we are very excited about the social aspect of our projects of course. We have been working very hard to market Iceland as a gay location; we are constantly looking up information online and sending emails to those who are listing up gay travel destinations to remind people that Iceland is a great option.

“the two Indian lesbians that held hands in Laugavegur, main street, cried when they realized that this was for the first time in 9 years that they could do that in public”

Eva María: Yes exactly we want to create this atmosphere, Pink Iceland is a character and we are small and professional and that is why we can be humorous in our services without being corporate. The little moments give us so much, for example our first clients, the two Indian lesbians that held hands in Laugavegur main street. They cried when they realized that this was for the first time in 9 years that they could do that in public. We are sincere in what we do, and we believe that Pink Iceland is here to stay.

We wish the dynamic trio in Pink Iceland all the best in the future of gay tourism, and we want to thank them for a great visit for us in team Snoop-Around in Eva María´s and Birna Hrönn´s apartment. We marked that as a sign on how personal they are, even though they run a professional company. Go Pink Iceland!

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

New changes on our website

We’d like to congratulate Vík Prjónsdóttir, who won in our category Designer of the Year for the Nordic Start Up Awards, we are very honoured to have been nominated.

The Snoop-Around team is interested in expanding its operations in the Nordic countries in the future, so we just say, on with Nordic Start up Awards, maybe we will win next time around!

At this juncture we wanted to mention a few changes on our website, now the reader can filter the content, such as articles that have appeared in Grapevine or specific events that we have covered. We have added a new page: MISC there we follow up on interesting things, happenings and events in Iceland, all from interviewing people for a short review up to covering events and festivals from a-z.

Sincerely, your Snoop-Around team.

Nordic Startup Awards

Snoop-Around is now a finalist nominated for the Nordic Startup Awards, which has the main purpose to consolidate the Scandinavian scene on the map, as a great innovation center in Europe. We are now competing in the top three finals, for designer of the year awards. Winning companies and startups of each category will then compete at the grand finale in Copenhagen in December 2012, where the Nordic countries will be competing to be crowned startup kings and queens of the Nordic region.

We are thankful for the attention, the voters who chose us and ultimately being a finalist and now we wait for the results, that will be announced very soon. We will keep you updated, our dear readers. Go Snoop-Around, Scandinavian style!

Fanney Sizemore

We visited freelance graphic designer and illustrator Fanney Sizemore. She greeted us with warmth, pastries and coffee in her loft apartment in 101 Reykjavík. Her cat wandered around us and we took a look around the cosy apartment, noticing quite a lot of her own work on the walls. We had heard that this Polish poster-loving artist had a thing or two to talk about and we undressed her with our questions as following.

Have you always been drawing?

I drew a lot when I was a child and as a teenager I was an art student. After I graduated college I wanted to study illustration, but they didn’t teach that here in Iceland so I chose graphic design in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. I went to Berlin as an exchange student and when I rambled the streets there I ended up in a Polish poster Art Gallery where I fell in love. Well, I fell in love with the poster medium I mean. I immediately decided then and there to do my Master thesis in Poland someday to study poster graphic design. My final project from the Art Academy where Polish posters, where I redesigned American movie posters in the Polish style, followed by my BA thesis about Polish posters and politics.

So, did you move to Poland?

Yes, actually I did. I got in to a Polish Art Academy, but the prerequisites were that I had to learn Polish for one-year prior. Then I studied for one year in a Master program with emphasis of making posters. I didn’t continue in the program, because my Polish wasn’t good enough.

Is it a hard language, and how did you manage in the school?

I can speak about the weather and other basic stuff, but i´m not that much into learning languages full time, so i probably could have worked harder on my studies. They say that it takes seven years to learn Polish well enough, so maybe I had the language skills like a four year old. And my accent was maybe not the best either. So to sum it up, the few theoretical courses I had to take where taught in Polish, but in other courses I had professors that spoke in English. I wasn’t sad to leave. Even though the school was wonderful and Krakow is a beautiful city, I was tired of the bureaucracy that I had to go through while I was studying there.

For example, when I was choosing my courses, I filled out an Index form and when we got grades I had to take the same form and wait outside the professor’s offices to get my card filled out. And then one professor told me to come at 10:00 o’clock and the next one at 12:00 o’clock, but I had to wait two hours for my first grade alongside with twenty other students and the professor didn’t show up. I was the only student who was upset about this, I thought it was disrespectful, but one of the students said, welcome to Poland! It took me around three weeks to find where I was supposed to attend classes and I ended up in a wrong poster class. This actually was better for me because it suited my interests better. However, I got to take both poster classes because of this confusion so I was really happy about that.

How do you like the poster culture here in Iceland compared to Poland?

In Iceland? I don´t think we really have a poster culture here. I think that is a result of how small the population is here, they are often a bit too commercal, people are often afraid of doing something different. But as soon as you study the poster culture in other countries, you see more exciting things happening. That has probably something to do with the fact, that they have a longer history in doing posters. Also when it comes to the size of the posters, here A3 is considered a poster, but to me it´s not a poster until it´s at least A2.

“A great design, in my opinion, is all about a good contrast between the picture and the typography”

Some designers overload the posters with information and the posters are overdesigned visually. But a great design, in my opinion, is all about a good contrast between the picture and the typography, but still maintaining the same feel. It´s a tricky balance. I think it is connected to advertisement philosophy, because if you want to get the attention, you need to design a clear message on a poster. What I love about the Polish poster culture is that there is more to it then meets the eye at first. You´ll get the basic clear message at first glance, but when you really study the poster, you can learn something new. I like to think, that is something I´ve taken with me, and effects the way I do my work.

I think the flyer culture is also lacking in space here in Iceland compared to for example Berlin where you can experience that culture in every café, everywhere where you can choose from 20 flyers to take with you. But everything is more and more mediated online, but I’m such a dinosaur, I personally want to create for print.

Is important to go abroad to absorb life?

Yes, I think so. I think it’s always important to seek education and/or experience abroad. I think it’s important for Icelandic people in general, to leave once in a while from the island.

“At the moment I really want to go to Kentucky because I have been studying my genealogy through my grandfather that was an American soldier”

At the moment I really want to go to Kentucky because I have been studying my genealogy through my grandfather that was an American soldier. My mother tried to find out more about him when she was younger, but only found out that he had died around 1955. I started snooping around back in 2007 on, but I only received a reply this year from someone called Ben Sizemore. I started looking at his family tree, and all the dates, locations and names matched with the information I had. But after I got more information, I´ve been looking more into the Sizemore family history, and I can say with 80% certainty that my great great great great great great grandfather was a Cheerokee Indian. So hopefully someday, I can take a road trip to Kentucky to discover my Indian roots!

I hope this is true; this will be an adventure for sure! But where do you get your inspiration from as an artist?

The Polish poster culture has inspired me with its ideology behind their making; I have a few up on my walls as you can see. They were made in the era of communism created by artists and the posters were loaded with symbols to get their messages against the situation across to the people.

I really adore the redesigning of American movie posters in Poland as well, because the design of the poster had nothing to do with the movie itself. I did a film poster myself once, in Polish style for Haukur Már when he released his film GE9N. I was really happy to do that because I really dislike the Hollywood element in Icelandic movie posters here in Iceland. They are all so literal. The poster becomes an independent medium when the design is special or has a deeper meaning behind it. Me, Haukur and Bogi worked on the consept for the poster together and ended up with a pampered police dog barking at the anarchist cat, and the lease goes out of the frame of the poster.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of?

I would have to say the whole idea that I worked with for the band Árstíðir, I had complete artistic freedom in fact for the project. They trusted me to interpret their music with my style. I didn’t want to be literal and make something like four leaves in different colours. I was rather excited to do something like portraying time as a whole in the world I created around their album.

“I was rather excited to do something like portraying time as a whole in the world I created around their album”

The band is actually very popular in Russia so they were really happy with the nature references of the pictures. Because they are acoustic I decided to bring in old school technology intertwined with romantic nature elements.

So what can you tell me about your colour palette?

I really love warm colours, like yellow, orange and greens. It´s strange to think about it, I see it when I look back, that I very often use the same colours. But I love vibrant and strong colours, sometimes my colour palette is a bit retro, but I guess I´m not much of a pastel person.

To turn to a basic question, how is it to be a freelance designer and illustrator in Iceland?

I started off by taking my portfolio and walked around the town and back, mainly to publishers, mainly because I really love to design book covers. I ended up walking from Bræðraborgarstígur to Árbær just in one day, and all of the sudden I realized that I was physically exhausted from trying to get projects.

“I have a really hard time working on pictures by someone else, I want to create and design from scratch”

It’s been OK, but I would love to work on more illustrative projects. In my spare time I try to work on illustrations for my own children´s story. I have a really hard time working on pictures by someone else, I want to create and design from scratch. I love to work with all sorts of footage or things in my surroundings, for example from nature. I like to use my scanner to work with elements that give a certain kind of texture.

Do you like to work with elements from our physical being?

Yes, I think it’s not interesting enough for me to be computer-based designer only. I think it gives the drawings and the designs a more personal effect. I think that my surroundings inspire me on a level that I am not fully aware of.

My inspiration comes from different kinds of mediums, once I did a project about Japanese Lolitas just right after I watched the movie Kamikaze girls. Once I got direct inspiration from the game Bubbles, without realizing it until afterwards, but these are just examples on how the directness of things can affect my designs.

But what about yourself, you aren’t a Lolita yourself miss Sizemore, and what can you tell us about your name?

No, not really. I redesigned myself this summer so I like this look a lot with the hair and all. I love trees and animals as well so that is also an element in my style as an artist. I can go on and on where my interests lie and I am a complete bookworm. I like to escape the everyday life into the fantasy books I read, and in a way I guess my work portray a way to do that as well.

Regarding my name, I started using the Sizemore name when I was 18 years old because that comes from my mother’s side of the family and I grew up with her. All my siblings have changed their last name to Sizemore except one.

“Here in Iceland it´s about knowing the right people, because it´s such a small society. You have to be your own PR guy”

You are working in a studio somewhere else?

Yes, I share a studio on Laugavegur 25 with product designer Ragnheiður and more people. I really like to be around people that can be my second eyes. Especially because I have editing problems.

Here in Iceland it´s about knowing the right people, because it´s such a small society. You have to be your own PR guy, so to speak, which has kind of been my problem because I’m not so good at small talk or mingling in the “right” parties. I guess I could be called a mixed media artist/designer, and I have a pretty strong independent style, and hopefully the world will see that one day.

We wish Fanney all the best in the future, wishing her artistic abilities to size more in Iceland as well as in the Universe.


Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís


Jóhann Örn Sigurjónsson and Jón Emil Björnsson form two man atmospheric/post – black metal band Dynfari, which was formed in the fall of 2010 and is now releasing its second album Sem skugginn. We drove up to their rehersal place in Hafnarfjörður, and met with them and asked them questions about music, metal, clichés and life.

When did you start playing music?

Jón Emil: I started out learning on classical guitar, and when i went in college at Selfoss, i met Jóhann and we and my uncle which had the similar taste of music and started jamming mostly Death metal like Autopsy and Death.

Jóhann: I started playing the bass when I was 16 years old, but the first band I played in was a death metal band in 2009, that was called Sacrilege. Jón Emil joined that band a few months later. We started playing together and forming our band, Dynfari, a year later, we had same ideas about music creation and that was great. We had a great time playing in Sacrilege, but it didnt evolve into being something more somehow. We started right away to plan recordings for Dynfari, which we of course financed ourselves.

Jón Emil: We were so fortunate to work with Árni Zoega, he is such a great musician, he helped us with the first album from A- Z. He is known in the scene here in Iceland, and he recorded our album and we are so grateful for our debut to be in his hands.

Are you guys educated in music, or self taught?

Jóhann: I am completely self taught, but I of course think its very important to seek education in music for whatever music you then create. I learned from the internet a lot. I mainly play the guitar now, but I started out as a bass player. But that is kinda funny because I don´t even own a guitar, I just borrowed one.

Jón Emil: I learned from a teacher on classical guitar as i said earlier, which helped of course be musician and so on, Then i kinda began playing drums when we started with Dynfari mostly because we were only two, though i look at it as my second instrument. But now i am a student in an Icelandic music school FÍH, studying percussion.

So what about other instruments?

Jóhann: Well, I also played the electric organ on our album that is soon out, and of course I am the vocalist in our band. I am not afraid of playing various instruments, my grandfather gave me a harmonica recently and we are thinking about playing that on our next album, we are experimental. In our eyes, its not that interesting to form a black metal band, and only play black metal all the time because that has been done, times million. We dare to do things differently and we want to create something new, even though we play black metal in that sense.

So black metal in Iceland, what bands are there?

Jón Emil: The Icelandic band Sólstafir, which have the roots to it, but they are just one of few that we could talk about. Well, my sister has a child with their guitar player, so my connection to this band is on a personal level.

Jóhann: Yes, in reviews they sometimes talk about us in a way that we are a band from Iceland, just like the band Sólstafir, but we are not trying to be them even though we respect them tremendously. But yeah, we listen to all sorts of music, black metal, and what yes, we really like Bonnie Tyler for example. Her rock ballads are amazing. I personally think that I listen to music that has some kind of a meaning, not the mass produced stuff that is the mainstream if you know what I mean. Heavy metal in itself is so complex and various, so many subgenres and influences…

Jón Emil: I listen to everything, basically. My roots lie in the old stuff though, the desert 70´ts rock and so, we could talk about music for months if you would have time for us. We both listen to all sorts of music.
Dynfari will always be our first band, but you never know in what musical direction we will be heading towards. I mean, we are not playing black metal constantly on practices, we also play around with all kinds.

Some people say its not music, only noise. What can you tell me about prejudices towards the music?

Jóhann: Its mainly based on ignorance, I´d say. We are very well aware that this music is not everybody´s cup of tea. Music is of that kind, some like and some don´t and that is it´s very nature. There are very strong feelings portrayed in music that is that loud, and I feel that its very hard to record music like ours properly because its not that accessible in a way.

Jón Emil: Exactly, you would not hear music like ours on the radio on daily basis ….

Jóhann: Our songs are not going to be played in between news programs on Bylgjan, local radio station, that is for sure.

You definently look the part, you both life the lifestyle of being metal guys. Are you going to change that?

Jón Emil: No, its a lifestyle, its like being a hippie or have dreadlocks.

Jóhann: I think it is a statement, being a male with long hair. I can feel the pressure here in Iceland, I mean boys should cut their hair. But this is very natural to me, we were born to be this way, its a cultural thing to cut the hair in my opinion.

Jón Emil: Yes, for example in Iran you would be stoned for not cutting your hair, I think the culture there would not allow it. So we are lucky here in a way …

You both come from the south, Selfoss, that is not the capital of dark music is it?

Jón Emil: I really don´t know, I don´t think so.

Jóhann: Well, maybe there are some Metallica cover bands around or something, but I really doubt that there are bands in the hiding from there playing anything heavier. We have never even played in Selfoss, there would never be anyone that would even show up! Well maybe our family members but that´ts it. Well actually we did get an invitation to play with a couple of other bands on a gig that was supposed to be held in Pakkhúsið, the youth center, but it was cancelled. We recorded demo´s there with Sacrilege in 2010, but yeah, that´s basically it for us in relations to Selfoss.

So, what do you guys do in life, other than making music?

Jóhann: I am a student, in the University which takes a lot of my time. Other than that, I like to read, play computer games, and play music. I recently was diagnosed with autoimmunity, which has taken a toll of my time in life. I take steroids when I get sick, and other medications as well all year round.

Jón Emil: I lived out in the country site, and was a carpenter. But moved to Reykjavík recently so i could go in school here and focus more on music.. So in life, yeah, my life is mainly about music.

When is your new album coming out?

Jóhann: It is just out now, we will play on our release concert on November 17th, in Gamli Gaukurinn. We are very happy about the album. The only thing bothering us was a mistake at the pressing plant, when the album was pressed the last song, supposed outro was made first on the album. We would of course want to play abroad, we are only two in the band and usually we have two more with us for live gigs. Hjálmar, my cousin, usually plays the bass with us and Jón Þór, a superbly skilled guitar player, plays the guitar, we rent the rehearsal studio together with his progressive metal band, Daedra.

Jón Emil: We have been assigned with this Italian record label, and the album is coming out in 1000 copies all around the world, which is a big step for us because our first album came out in 50 copies.

What about your fans, have received fan mails?

Jóhann: Yes we have gotten messages from Japan and Hong Kong, then there is a guy from Columbia that is working for a Chineese record label is very supportive and wanted to help us because he really likes our sound. But yes, I think people that listen to this kind of music, know who we are here in Iceland so we are happy to play for them on our release concert.

We drove off wishing that we would be able to hear more of their music, excited to attend their realease concert. We wish them all the best for the future of metal music! Dynfari release concert of the album Sem Skugginn published by Aura Music/ Code666 Records, on November 17th at 21:00 oclock at Gamli Gaukurinn. The night will start out with a listening party, followed by a Dynfari concert at 22:00 oclock. Warm up bands are Hindurvættir from Akureyri and Auðn.

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Camera / Editing / photos: Nanna Dís

Frosti Gnarr Studio

On a frosty Friday afternoon we dropped by Frosti Gnarr Studio located in a cosy industrial environment by the sea, close to Grótta and were greeted by the studio’s staff, one enthusiastic dog and one little helper. The studio started out as a one-man show, but it is now run by three close friends that all have very different backgrounds and roles. We sat down with Frosti to talk about the concept of the Studio, their friendship, their art magazine and upcoming book publishing.

So, you are one big family here at the Studio?

Well, we all have quite different roles in our company and we have a great professional relationship even though we are close friends. I studied graphic design in the Netherlands, and when I moved back home I became a freelance graphic designer. After a while, I contacted my friend Peppi, and we decided to join forces to run a Studio together since he had a business background he took on the role of overseeing the business side of the company. I am the creative director, and Peppi loves excel so we make a perfect match.

Our friend Hilmir is a filmmaker, and he is my right hand and artistic advisor. He touches things and has to know how they are made. He knows paper types, and programs, well he basically knows how things work. The three of us are the oldest and best of friends. And sometimes we have additional company at the studio, for example my little brother is here visiting now.

I noticed that you have done branding for your clients, what can you tell us about that?

Well, branding means that we create an overall visual identity for the client, that relates prominently to their brand. We have worked on branding projects for some commercial clients, but we mainly work on smaller projects with artists and musicians to evolve their identity or brand, help them visualise what it is that they stand for.

So, isn’t it hard for you to combine your vision, with that of your clients when they already know what they want?

It can certainly be very tricky, for people with different backgrounds to work together on any project, but this process of being able to deliver a message through imagery is what graphic design is all about. We work on such a variety of projects in this studio, design for stores, branding, CD covers, books, posters, visuals for TV shows and much more that all demand that we communicate the message of the clients through our own vision of what graphic design should be.

What has been the most exciting project, you have worked on in the Studio?

I would definitely say that it is Grotta Zine, our magazine that we are so excited about. Our readers are mainly artists, and the magazine in itself is important as an archive about Icelandic artists of our times. We are documenting the art and the artists that we feel are not accessible enough, we are collecting artistic work in a catalogue.

Who will be the next artist portrayed in Grotta Zine?

Atli Bender, our next featured artist is on his final year in graphic design in the Icelandic Art Academy but will mainly showcase photography and geometrical screen print experiments in his edition of Grotta.

The title of the Magazine is sprung from our Studio’s location because we are situated here by the sea near Grótta but we were also thinking about the Italian meaning of the word, which is cave, and refers to Plato’s allegory of the cave. The artists we feature are those that we believe have been released from their shackles and have seen beyond the illusions.

So, does the surroundings here in Seltjarnarnes near Grótta, inspire you?

Yes, we are so happy to be outside of 101 Reykjavík. We sometimes walk by the ocean and Grótta lighthouse, which is in itself a magical place. We are inspired by the surroundings of course, and from being a part of this industrial area.

So, what other projects are you currently working on now?

Well, we are working on a book featuring the work of photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson. We are focused on using his range and prolificacy as an artist and journalist as a medium for narrating small stories and juxtapositions in urban and rural Iceland. To narrate this we use the duality of each spread. We want our presence to be felt in this book as long as it complements the artist’s work. In essence, that is what we are trying to achieve in all of our projects, be a voice that amplifies the voice of the client.

Our other big book project “Only Human” should also be mentioned. We are collecting visual art, articles, photographs and poetry that relate to the subject of human limitations and our attempts at rising above them. We have confirmed participants such as Matthew Barney, Anya Jansen, Jenny Morgan, Richard Saja, Brian Walker and Arjen Mulder to name a few. This is a project that we work on in our free time and are not rushing. The artists participating either contribute work that fits the concept, or create pieces specifically for the book.


Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photos: Nanna Dís