Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen – Denmark

Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen is a Danish artists who grew up in Sweden and became a man in New York. In the 90′s he worked as a photographer, artist, DJ and Host for club events in New York’s nightlife. After September 11th 2001, his life took a new direction and he started working on projects to create awareness about urgent global issues, through art. His current projects are CO2 Green Drive – a global performance project with focus on alternative energy and the climate. The other, a cultural and artistic exchange concept called The Triangle Project.

© Nanna Dís 2013

In the spring of 2014 he has plans to bring The Triangle Project to Reykjavik, Iceland. There he wants to launch “Intentional Art” as a new art form and initiate the establishment of the BF Bank. BF is of course short for Bobby Fischer and the plan is to collaborate with local artists to exchange experiences around the current state of Denmark and Iceland, with inspiration from Istanbul and New York.

This will be done by creating a board of directors that will co-create the framework for a new bank on Iceland. He is open to collaboration and can be contacted through Facebook: facebook.com/jacob.fuglsang.mikkelsen

Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_04©NannaDís2013
Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_05©NannaDís2013
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Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_09©NannaDís2013
Jacob-Fuglsang-Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_014©NannaDís2013
Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_011©NannaDís2013
Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_03©NannaDís2013
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Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_012©NannaDís2013
Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen_artist_Denmark_01©NannaDís2013



Photographs taken at Jacob´s studio in Copenhagen, Denmark, early in 2013.


Links:

Portal: jacobfuglsangmikkelsen.com
Site with work before 2004: jayfugmik.com
Climate, Alternative energy and performance: co2greendrive.com
Blog for above: co2-e-race.blogspot.com
Inspiration and creative outlet: mashup-culture.blogspot.com
Cultural and Art Exchange: triangleproject.blogspot.com

Photographs: Nanna Dís


LÍBER

We stopped by Líber, on a cheerful Saturday to visit artist and designer Íris Eggertsdóttir in her whimsical and interesting store on Hverfisgata 101 Reykjavík. The clothes sold there are handcrafted, with a strong vision of design, where no items are identical. She works with textiles, and her interest in fabrics and using them to create sprung from her early age. We wanted to know more, and arranged a visit which was as fascinating , surprising and explosive as the window showcasing her work to the outside world.

© Nanna Dís 2013

When did you start thinking about materials and designing?

Well, my mother is a tailor and a designer, and worked for many years for Karnabær and then later 66° north. And yes at the National Theater as a costume designer. I never planed on following in her footsteps. When I was little, I was constantly sewing and designing. I even had a whole room where I could play with materials, fabrics and a huge tailoring table (sníðaborð – veistu hvernig þetta er á ensku? Held að það sé´bara sett tailoring table) with sewing machines and so on.

I then decided to study art, and I had a very strong agenda, on not becoming a fashion designer. I studied abroad, in England. Then when I got pregnant I wanted to move back to Iceland so I finished my studies at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. For my final project I created three pieces that individuals could dress themselves into, i.e. one could interact with the pieces. I use textiles in my art, so somehow textiles have always had some connection to what I do. I have for example always sewn for myself and then my friends, so I decided to try it out professionally.

So, how do you label yourself? (Do you like labels?)

I can straight out, tell you what I am. I am an idea builder.

What, how would you translate that to English?

Personal idea director? Laughs.

As soon as you find the words in English, they mean something totally different. Like Idealist, conceptual designer, not necessarily an artist though … you know. Conceptual designer, I don’t really know. Well, now I am going to obsess about this! Well no, builder of ideas. Or idea builder. Yes, that is what I am.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
LÍBER LÍBER

I remember you from before, when you were running your own store KVK, what can you tell me about that?

Yes, I was running KVK store with my friend Kolbrún for a long time. We had a great relationship actually and it went very well. I am very unorganized and she is very organized. We were running the store for almost five years, and we were a little alike in many ways actually. So at the end of this period we decided to work separately. Well actually it felt like we were divorcing.

Really, how so?

We had been together day and night, all the time and it was so weird all of the sudden not to be together. We had been together in building up something, that many people don’t fully understand, receiving comments from customers, and putting everything on the line for what we believed in. But you learn so much from it and this was a wonderful time, to jump into the deep end by running a store that sold our creations.
After all this, Kolbrún decided to study fashion design in Barcelona, and I learned how to be organized and independent. But yeah, the feeling is similar to when an artist finishes his or her piece; there is a certain kind of emptiness that you have to deal with when something is finished. Because when you are an artist, it´s not anything that you can turn off and on. You are constantly working, in a way. So when the closure comes, you feel a little lost for some time afterward. I cherish this time we had with KVK deeply.

And then the Líber store, your store, came along?

Yes, this was originally intended to be my workspace, and I was thinking about selling my artwork in other stores. I thought about it a lot actually. A year ago, I decided to alter the front space into a store. And that process, of opening up a store, is a total new beginning as well.

But then we have this battlefield of road construction just outside? The whole street is like an open gap, how do you think that affects your store?

Yes, this is a huge issue actually, for everyone that runs a business here. Especially this time of year, September – December, the prime time for a store like mine. It surely has an impact on what I am trying to do here, to start a new store with my own work.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

On to other things, what inspires you?

Wow, that is a huge question. For example, when I am walking around the city, I look at forms. There are many Indian patterns in the city landscape for example, zik- zak lines, triangles and so on if you look at the streets, walkways are for example striped and there are so many interesting things happening in the outside space, really. The streets signs are also very interesting.

But I get ideas from all over. But I have to mention one thing. Pinterest! You can zone out, and look at things and pictures for hours and hours. I get very inspired by this visual online database, I must say!

And the sky. This is why I really like tie dying. There is something that happens when you experiment with this method. I really like that using this method you do not known what the final outcome will be. This is probably why I have never applied for the artistic grant!

So, do you think the grants are somehow too “boxed in” in this regard?

Yes, somehow you are always hired to deliver something that is already defined. That is a huge defect in my opinion. This is something that needed to change a long time ago, because we need to blend these things much more. We need various people in order create the entire spectrum. We need to have all the sides of the story. Because at the end of the day, you should always stand up for what you believe.

So, what do you sell in your store?

My ideology in making clothes is that they should be comfortable, but stylish. It should be about feeling good. I work with forms and colors. I am currently working with my lovely co-worker who is here now, Magga Einars. We are crocheting pieces together, sweaters that are both open or closed and vests. I really enjoy that people come in to my store, and find something’s fashionable for every body shape and form. Men also shop here, since I am doing scarfs and trousers and so on.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

Isn’t it hard to make trousers?

I once was into the business on making skinny jeans and such. But now I make everything in two sizes, and everything is loose and comfortable. Every piece is handcrafted and unique and that is what people really like. And how long the pieces last. That is very nice.

I see here in our store window, these amazing masks. What can you tell me about them?

I have always been super excited about masks, actually. I have always been thinking about what we as people do, externally, and how we behave. And, yes, I don’t think that we are defined fully on „who we are“ because we are some many things at once.

How can I explain this, like when we go to the bank, we put on the bank mask, and when you are at home, you have another mask. And coming to the point about the masks you saw in my window, I worked with Facebook statuses, they inspired me in making different masks, art works inspired by what I read from different people on there. They can be controversial, sad, joyful and everything in-between. So I made a mask once a week to one status, over a period of one year. And the final piece is still evolving!

My husband is a photographer, and we connect so well, and we have a great level of trust between us. His name is Jón Páll Eyjólfsson. Well, I chose to work with him on this project because in some way he also understands what I am doing. So the project, which is still in the making, will be a photo book, where we showcase both the texts and the masks which are my artistic representation off what people are feeling and expressing in their texts. I am constantly working in the current, or addressing current times that is, through my artwork as well.

c Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

Have you ever felt that people misunderstand what you are doing?

Well, not exactly. They sometimes maybe feel sorry for me, they ask me questions like „how are you doing, is it working out for you being an artist? “ But in my opinion, I think artists are the strongest people out there. They can make something out of nothing, and they can live on nothing, making their art. That is truly inspiring.

To something related to this, how do you feel about the governments huge budget cuts towards the arts?

Well, if they think that art magically appears, they are wrong. All fields of society should work together. I think that in the school system, we need to respect the art education on the same level as we respect practical studies. The focus should be on celebrating ideas, and artistic approaches.

The politicians here can shovel money to the fishing industry, or may I rephrase this sentence, they can basically give them money, but at the same time they chose to disrespect the professional fields of arts. But hey, then we can close down the museums, the cinemas, the designer stores and so many other things! But if you are an artist, you need to be patient and to have a certain sense of humor for yourself.

So, they don’t understand the values of arts?

As I see it, people really like to categorize things and not afraid or un-willing to criticize things. The key factor is not to pin point this and that which is unneeded; we need all of these elements. We need a good healthcare system, we need the agriculture, we need the fishing industry, and we need the arts. We should not look at any of the elements with a unfavorable attitude, but work on building respect between different areas of our society.

Each and every one chooses what he or she does. We should respect that choice. Everything and every kind of choice. This is what I was discussing before; we need to have a broader spectrum. This is why we should rather elect people, not parties!

Many people that buy art, do so by their own taste, and then they sometimes go deeper than that. My world is always sprung from my perceptions, and something that I connect to and what I understand. Others maybe connect in some completely different way. But what I like most is when people talk to me about my work. Then I get many different kinds of ideas, and this interactivity has an effect on how I write about my works.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

So the discussion is very important?

Yes, of course. Like the masks, now we both have our interview masks on. This applies also to for example, societies that still actively use masks in their culture or rituals. But we always have the invisible mask on, in everything we do. We have all these unwritten rules, about how we behave in general.

So, what does the future bring?

That I can live on my artwork, and that I don’t have to worry each month about paying my bills. I really like what I do. I really enjoy talking to my clients and yes so to sum it up, my dream is to be creative and enjoy life!


We thank Íris very much for the interview, and we hope to see much more of her work, ideas and artistic pieces in the future.

Her store is located: Hverfisgata 50, 101 Reykjavík
Here is her website: liberliber.me
And of course the Facebook page: LiberAtelier


Hallur Karl

On a beautiful summer afternoon we drove to Eyrarbakki for a short visit to painter/artist, Hallur Karl. We came to Litla-Háeyri, an old two-story house in which Hallur lives and works. He was welcoming and offered us coffee and chocolate biscuits, which we gladly accepted. Our visit was both enjoyable and educational; Hallur Karl is well read and didn’t hesitate to bring up many interesting subjects, whether it is his art, his life or various other thoughts.

Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_014©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013

Why did you choose to live and work at Eyrarbakki? Many would think that the only way to be successful is to live in the capital and know people that have influence in the art world.

This is not the first time I have a studio here. This place somehow works for me. There is no distraction and I have peace here when I want it. After getting back into painting about a year ago I was working in a garage in my hometown. Eyrarbakki had been on my radar for a while and when I was told about this place, that it was vacant, I took it.

I’m not into Reykjavik, the capital, that much. I use it when I need to be more social and I go there for materials. It’s where the galleries are. To me it is a very distracting place and I wouldn’t be able to work there. Getting 10 hours of silence for painting would be impossible for me. I know how easily I get distracted from my work and tempted by social urges and life in general. It’s too easy to pull me out of my studio. I really like the city but it would overwhelm me and it would impact my productivity in a negative way but I admit there’s a noisy voice inside me telling me to try living there but right now, I’m happy where I am.

“I approach the idea of success in an old-school kind of fashion”

I approach the idea of success in an old-school kind of fashion. I focus on the quality of my work and on the concepts I am working on. I feel quite successful, personally, when it comes to creating what I have in mind. Thus I’m confident when it comes to my art. I don’t spend time on regret in my decisions within the older paintings, but I try to learn from them. The time I have here, outside of Reykjavik, allows me to make sure everything is the way I like it. I believe in foundation-building, growing into success, not getting it on a plate. I don’t want to be a one-hitter. I want to be a good, consistent, effective painter.

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Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_013©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013

Tell us about this old, charming and colourful house you live in.

The house is built in 1932 by very high standards. It’s almost vulgar how lavishly it is built for the time, in comparison to what was the standard here at the time. The blueprint is similar to what you would see in rich neighbourhoods in Reykjavik of that period. The house is grandiose. The concrete walls are unnecessarily thick, therefore needlessly expensive. The garden has a concrete wall around it, and ten large cartwheels used to decorate the road side. Those are gone now. Everything from the doors to the windows is beautifully crafted from good wood, the place feels almost baroque.

But it didn’t get the care it needed in the later years of last century and earthquakes have taken their toll on the concrete. It really needs a paint job. The windows are foggy from saltwater and the wood is quite rotten. So it has this abandoned castle feel to it. I am quite nostalgic here. It constantly reminds me of my good years in France, where I lived in some very old houses that had this ancient glory feel to them.

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Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_015©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013
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You decided to go to France and study fine arts. How was that experience and do you think the French people approach art differently than we do?

I went to France by coincidence after dropping out of school. I had been doing various jobs, something I am glad I did, like carpentry, the roadwork’s, soil conservation in the highlands. A lot of that sticks with me now. I really like manual labour, I’m good at it. It really helps in certain aspects of making artwork. But anyway, I met some people that invited me to live cheaply in France for half a year and they helped me contact the local art school. The school was enthusiastic about receiving an exotic student and the whole thing went really well. I stuck to France for five years. I did three years in art school and I travelled a lot. I enjoyed life very much then. It is like a dream to me now. After receiving the diploma I moved back home and started painting professionally.

“everybody could suddenly go online. Nobody wanted to paint”

The French were very negative when it came to painting in those years. It’s different now, naturally, after Saatchi’s Triumph of Painting exhibitions, the Belgian movement with Tuymans and many other very strong (and expensive) movements of painters. But at the time we were being taught by teachers who were disappointed in painting and had a very restrictive attitude towards it. They claimed there to be rules by which one should approach the medium that seriously reduced the possibilities it offers. This meant that out of some two hundred students, less than ten of us were painting seriously. Many of the students were enthusiastic about the possibilities of new mediums like everything digital, video, mixed installations and so forth. They had Macintosh Classic computers when I arrived there in 2000. The next year they had state of the art computers (in colour!) and everybody could suddenly go online. Nobody wanted to paint.

The French have a stronger social sense than Icelanders. They are very aware of which social group they belong to, and a lot less apologetic about it than we are. It is almost ubiquitous in their art. This may be the reason why they have more problems with painting than some other countries in Europe – they often see it as a very bourgeois activity. The galleries, the money, the status symbols. It can interfere with their reading of painted art. So when the art schools are more or less filled with working class kids it is only natural that they frown upon those who would do art that is traditionally sold. Money was a big taboo subject when I was there. One fellow student comes to mind – he fled the prestigious art school of Sorbonne in Paris because his canvases were repeatedly slashed by other students that disagreed with his practice. He was sick of discovering them ruined when he came to his studio. This is how serious they were, and probably still are.

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Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_08©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013

You are and abstract painter but you also do landscape paintings.
Do you work from life, photographs or from imagination?

It is all about oil paint to me, whether it suits my needs to draw from photographs or to do more gestural work, for example. I work in series. I create simple systems that force me to make several works around the same method or subject matter. This means that once I have that, I don’t depend on inspiration at all. I don’t think there is such a thing in my list of requirements for creating art. I need time and materials. I need to think. Inspiration can even be a distraction from a better focus point. I feel inspired by stuff that has nothing to do with making paintings. Birds for instance inspire me. Music inspires me. But these things don’t inspire me to paint, necessarily, but rather to feel alive and well. Feeling well does make it easier to paint, contrary to popular belief. The same can be said about any work.

I think that recently, religion and lack thereof has been a factor in my work. I work less from landscape tradition than I used to. My recent work is more introspective, even therapeutic, sometimes. Landscape was very prevalent in my work for a long time but I don’t think I need that now. I’m disappointed and disgusted in the current treatment of land. I’ve tried to make that seen in my work without being kitsch and without telling stories. I think a lot of people neglect that aspect of my work and prefer to see them as objects of beautiful colour in which you can play the cloud game, spotting things, for amusement. I’m tired of the pareidolic approach to abstract art that seems to be so prevalent in people here. I’ll always paint from landscape in some fashion, though. It is beyond me not to, at least for now.

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Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_04©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013
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I think the most common thread in my work is the space of colour as a subject matter. Like trying to paint the dimension of pigmented oil. It’s probably there, my inspiration, if anywhere – my obsession to stick to oils on canvas even if I don’t always enjoy it. The pigments in the oils come from all over the world. Blacks can be made from coal, bone or metal. I truly see the origins of pigments as very fundamental facts. The Italian earths, the cadmiums, the more recent tints made from inert pigments in vegetal colour baths. I love how oils can only be made from physical reality, unlike digital mediums. Therefore, painting is like touching the universe.

Where do you feel your going with your art? For example your latest work, they expose a lot of energy and strong colours.

My most recent work is developed from a series of drawings I made ten years ago in art school. I was fascinated with the idea of paper as the theatre of drawing. I would draw a simple room in perspective, using only square format heavy paper. Once done, everything was permitted inside that room. You could draw anything. We called it the Drawing Room. It was extremely liberating for me to draw in this fashion. What I am doing now is the same thing, but in oils, using 60 x 60 cm format, and a 2,5 cm thick frame within that format of 40 x 40 cm. Beyond this simple recipe everything is permitted. The pictures are very dissimilar except for the clean square frame in the middle of the canvas. It binds them all together. I experiment a lot with colour in these paintings. They are very playful.

The ones that contain landscape have a strong political feel to them, the strictness of the square is so fascist when combined with, say, a mountain. In those, I paint the square in cadmium red, which is basically rusted metal. To mix traditional landscape with a square of red metal creates a grinding sensation in me that I like. Right now I want to make hundreds of them.

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Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_05©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013

This experiment will eventually reveal something – it may become a thing where the sum will be greater than it’s parts, if it works. I’m often asked about the “energy” in my paintings. I think this apparently common feeling that people get when they look at them might have to do with my use of pure pigments. I like cadmiums when they are clean. They vibrate so strongly. I like clean blacks. I like to juxtapose clean pigments. To blend them serves a purpose, like making illusions of depth or making complimentary colours. So I don’t always feel I need to blend them at all. I also like to stir and smear colours on top of each other once they’re on the canvas. This can make them look torn, sometimes. I guess you could say it has a violent feel to it when you look at it from a figurative standpoint but what I’m really doing is very similar to moving sand on a beach, or playing with mud. I enjoy watching natural movement in the colour. The results may seem violent or energetic sometimes but they really happen quite slowly and peacefully.

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Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting or the way it is executed?

Since I work so much from the standpoint of the materials I’d say the two (subject matter and execution) are both sides of the same coin. They are completely annexed in the ones where I’m not trying to create illusions of landscape or objects with paint. The paints are the medium through which a subject emerges. I’ve experimented with this by painting from reference, searching for colours in natural palettes easily recognizable as Icelandic, or in palettes that are more introvert, personal, and less referential to the outside world. These are often quite fun since there will always be an accidental reference in them that I did not intend for.

In the figurative ones, which I prefer to call illustrative or illusional (since the abstract ones are more honest about what they are made of and therefore closer to reality somehow, thus more figurative) this is a different practice altogether. It is less about invention and more about discipline. They have a lot more to do with the history of painting and because of that the methods are obviously more traditional.

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Hallur-Karl_Artist-Iceland_01©ÞórfríðurSoffía2013

After this uplighting and meaningful conversation we went our separate ways. We were full of positive thoughts after the visit because Hallur is such efficient and talented painter with a good and enjoyable views. We are most certain that this productive/active painter will be successful in the upcoming future and we wish him all the best!

hallurkarl.is
facebook.com/hallurkarl

Interview & Photographs: Þórfríður Soffía Haraldsdóttir

Devantier Vintage – Denmark

Team Snoop-Around had a brief moment of working from two different countries, and that is why we decided to work on this interview together, Nanna Dís portraying the visuals from Denmark, and me meeting up with the wonderful Anna Devantier who runs her vintage store in Copenhagen on Skype. We wanted to know a little bit more about Anna, and her collective choices for the pieces sold in the store.

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How was it for you growing up in Denmark, fashion wise?

I had a very common style in that sense when I was a teenager, I wore oversized lumberjack shirts and this of course was the time of the grunge era. When I went to the University it changed a bit for me, and I started to be more out there as of being independent in my style. I wore eveningwear and bohemian outfits to school in the daytime and stuff like that. I have always read a lot of fashion magazines like British Vogue, so fashion has always been my interest.

How is your style now?

I have been through various different styles through my life but now I am wearing a lot of black. I don’t think I am representing my store all the time of course, but I am driven by my passion for fashion. I hand pick everything in the store and each piece is chosen with the elements of contemporary design, wearability and quality. This is what vintage is for me; vintage is to be worn in a modern way.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_09©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_04©NannaDís2013

What has influenced you, have you travelled the world?

Yes, you could say that I have travelled the world, or at least a part of it. I was studying Hebrew and Middle Eastern studies so I travelled alot to Israel and Palestine for example. I have been to all sorts of markets and I sometimes I buy items for the shop. It is very important for me to be on the lookout wherever I go and it has developed my passion for vintage clothing a lot. It’s nice to see a piece from Yves Saint Laurent in foreign countries that are very different from the Western world in terms of culture and living standards, but still have rare items available in stores or markets. Fashion can be global in that way.

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Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_06©NannaDís2013

It’s nice to see that fashion goes in circles, what can you tell me about that?

The difference is that second hand, is not necessarily vintage. Vintage clothes are monuments from designers from the past, exquisite pieces of art and design that we in the Vintage business want to give life again by making them available at reasonable prizes for people to wear. Some vintage pieces have never been worn, so in this way they also differ from the second hand concept. We offer an extensive collection of vintage clothing, shoes and accessories that span the entire 20th century, pretty much!

You also have other items in the store that are not clothing?

Yes, we have all kinds of different things, for example we sell books about Fashion, photography and design. I have educated myself a lot through reading fashion magazines and books throughout my life, and incorporate my passion for this in the store. You never know what to expect in Devantier Vintage. Every visit should be about surprise and inspiration.

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Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_07©NannaDís2013

What about the sizes of the pieces, is that a problem?

We have all sizes in the store, from the smallest sizes to around size 42. But of course it’s difficult if you see your dream item, but it’s not in your size. The same goes for shoes and other things that do not necessarily fit. But when you are lucky, and everything fits, it’s an extra special moment for people to buy their dream piece.

Where does the name for the store come from?

The name Devantier Vintage comes from my family name. My intention has always been that it should reflect my personal sense of style and fashion.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_011©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_010©NannaDís2013

How do you like to be online, do you communicate a lot with your customers for example on your Facebook page?

Yes, it is very necessary and an inspiration to communicate with people online. We also have an online store, so we are not bound by our location necessarily. It is great in the modern day to photograph the items sold in the store. This way people can immediately see online what new items we get in the store, before they come and try things out. We also offer a Newsletter for our enthusiasts, so people know when we get rare things in the shop.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_02©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_01©NannaDís2013

It was great to speak with Anna on Skype, actually this is team Snoop-Around first online interview. It had its up and downs, since the recording program shut down midway through, but it was a great experience that the team will think abut doing in the future if its members are in different locations. She is a true enthusiast about fashion and vintage so its nice to pop by the shop and talk to her in person about the items sold in the store.

We encourage all to visit the shop if ever in Copenhagen, here you can find it on a MAP
- and the store is open Tue- Fri from 11:00 am – 06:00 pm and on Saturdays from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

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Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Marino Thorlacius

Team Snoop-Around visited Marinó´s new studio in the harbour area of Reykjavík,
where the quiet photographer welcomed us to his studio. He rarely describes his own work, as he likes to make it stand unexplained. We wanted to know more about this atmospheric and one of the most prominent photographer in Iceland today.

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So you are a photographer and a designer?

I am in both; I am much more in photography now though. I learned NTV back in 2002, and was making record covers and such until maybe 2004 – 2005 when I bought my first camera. But I’m not a graphic designer.

Has the foreign press shown you much interest?

Yes, I have been in various photography magazines and such. But I am not very good in answering questions; I am not much of a front man in that way. I made a New Years resolution to be more available discussing my work further. These are two different kinds of groups that I work with, the field of advertisement and the art house field for the galleries. So it depends on which field is referred to.

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Photographs: Marino Thorlacius

What is your favourite commissions project up to date?

Sruli is one of them, where I blended together what I wanted to do, and what needed to be done. I divide these areas actually, what is mine and what the commissionaires wants. Even though they request something that looks like some series that I have previously worked on, the work often ends up being very commercial. Working for Lexus in Japan was also a very fun experience and my collaboration with Jónas Valtýrsson is always a great thing.

“I rarely describe my work in words, and I never try to explain what I am doing so I feel it is very funny when others do”

How do you feel when others describe your work and photography?

Ahh, I don’t know. I rarely describe my work in words, and I never try to explain what I am doing so I feel it is very funny when others do. Some are very analytic and say that they sense loneliness, misery and even depression in my work. I can understand these elements very well actually in terms of my early work for example my book that was full of photographs in that atmosphere.

But I mainly am fascinated by locations and when people ask me, where my photographs were taken I don’t think it matters so they are missing my artistic point. For example I am taking photographs in different kinds of cities like Paris, Berlin and Tokyo and they all look the same. The photographs are empty with people and they portray distance. I often do not decide what I am doing beforehand. I am very fond of the weather and light than anything else, artistically.

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“I get very inspired by films, and I am kind of manic about them”

You are moving towards the field of the moving image, what can you tell me about that?

It was always on the plan for me to create video work. I get very inspired by films, and I am kind of manic about them. I got my first camera that records video as well recently. The movement with the camera is different and exciting; there are technical aspects that you need to get involved with. My method of filming is very similar with how I shoot photographs, its not about the fixed posing, I rather create two dots that I try to capture the movement in-between with the camera.

I am so lucky that I have been a photographer for years, and that helps me a lot in the film making process. I can think in terms of the moving image.

Requiem trailer – Directed by: Sigríður Soffía / Marino Thorlacius

I saw a short film trailer that came out the other day, which you shot. How did this collaboration come about?

Me and Sigga Soffía, dancer, met in Paris a year ago or something. I had been observant of contemporary dance prior, and I thought the format was very interesting. These elements of floating, non-speaking elements, and the fact that you can express the feeling that you want to portray through the moving image sold me this idea of producing a dance film.

We started out filming, and we ended up using a lot of the test that we shot. When you have a stage, the audience is always looking from one direction and the dancers need to turn and portray the movement. But when you are filming, you are floating with the dancer. We took a lot of one shots that is they had to choreograph one scene completely. This method was very sufficient for me to explore, for example when to approach the movement more closely.

I am also very excited about what musician Barði (Bang Gang) will add to the film; as for he is creating the sound world for the film.

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Photographs: Marino Thorlacius

So, you are excited on working more with film?

Yes, and next projects will be worked on differently. But I am very fascinated by films, I can name a couple of titles, There will be blood and films made by Terrence Malick, Thin red line and Tree of life to name a few. Everything that is undisclosed in a way where directors allow themselves to do what they want.

Films like Biutiful, Babel and Children of men are titles that I am very drawn to, in the sense that they are very extravagant in using the visual medium as a tool for their artistry. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is a great inspiration to me.

I am curious about Icelandic artists that have had impact on you in life, what can you tell me about that?

The Icelandic photographer RAX had extremely much influence on me in the beginning of my carrier whereas his work is about breaking the frame in an artistic way. Icelanders haven’t witnessed photography as an art form really, like the format is known abroad.

“I am looking at the world as a stage”

But personally I am more influenced by paintings, rather than photography like Dalhi and such painters. I am looking at the world as a stage, and that is what inspires me really.

Pétur Thomsen is one contemporary Icelandic photographer that I was really impressed by, one of his recent show Imported landscapes was amazing. I sometimes see elements that I have myself been trying out in other peoples work.

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What are your elements in photography?

Icelanders present Iceland like they want to do it, the focus is very much on tourism in that sense. But people that work in the travel industry they sometimes don’t think about other elements than sunshine and nature, about other things like tourists that live in big cities that never experience silence for example. These are experiences; I am not drawn to shoot in this postcard- like style.

Sometimes people tend to ask a lot about the locations, but the things that matters the most is how the weather was, you could be standing out on a field that suddenly turns in to an art piece in one second. The moments are what its all about. And they are also intangible to capture sometimes.

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Are you thinking about publish more books with your work, since you have one out?

My first book was a piece that I haven’t even flipped through since it was published. I want to work with a concept if I am going to do another one; I want to maybe do several books in a row. The book format is very exciting in a way, its something that lives on and has its charismatic’s.

If you produce series, you can allow yourself to choose photographs that are a part of the series and that is very interesting in it self. The book format has this holistic quality that we sometimes lose in our overloaded times.

The photograph changes in its element when it’s printed; this is the reason why photographers are always printing out tests and such. If I could choose, I would work with film. But it’s too expensive and is heavy in production. Sometimes the time frame doesn’t allow it either. The clients are used to choose from a large collection, so it isn’t a choice sometimes.

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Pétur Ben musician – Photograph: Marino Thorlacius


We are looking forward to follow up on Marinó´s work in the future, both in photography and in filmmaking and wish him all the best in his visually intriguing future.

marinothorlacius.com

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Siggi Palli

Team Snoop-Around parked outside Mótorsmiðjan for an interview, the second home of artist Siggi Palli, who greeted us with great respect. The atmosphere inside was nice and cosy, and we sat down in the Café area for a chat, we wanted to know a thing or two about Siggi Palli´s lifestyle, artistry and views on the Icelandic motorcycle culture.

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I wonder, have you always been artsy?

I have been drawing since I was a little kid; it was my medium when I expressed myself. I mediated both joy and anger through art, once when my father was strict with me I drew a pretty libellous picture and gave him. He still owns the picture. So, when I needed to get something out of my system I drew it away.

When I was older I was a student at the Icelandic Academy of the arts, but I didn’t connect with the format of creating art daily from 8-4, and to hand in projects on deadlines and so forth. It killed my drive for some reason. We learned Art History, where we studied paintings made by the old masters, and I was sure that I would never paint like that. The comparison didn’t make sense to me at the time.

I didn’t mange to finish school, so me and my friend decided to get a job on a ship, that sailed us to Greece, where we stayed for some time for we wanted to experience something new and adventurous. When I came back I didn’t touch a pencil or a brush for years though.

“a documentary, Flúreyjar, about a small group of tattoo artists from Iceland”

So you have been working with film, I hear as well?

Yes, I had been doing that for years. I have for example been directing and producing music videos and various things. I was a gripper for years as well. I produced a documentary, Flúreyjar, about a small group of tattoo artists from Iceland, Fjölnir and Jón Páll, and a couple of other guys that went biking in Faeroe Islands. I have always been a big fan of the Islands, and Fjölnir even made me a tattoo as a thank you gift with the logo of the film after all this.

But yes, I have been directing and producing music videos with various artist from Iceland and Scandinavia; Dr. Spock, Eivör, Högni, Boys in a band and Rönbeck for example.

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So, when did you manage to get your mojo back?

Ten years ago, I started to see images again in my mind and got many ideas that I wanted to act on. I wanted to explore formatic elements and this need to paint gushed out so I started to paint a lot. When I had painted 20-25 large paintings, they started to get in our way at home so I figured that I had to exhibit then. In my exhibition 8 of 10 of my works were sold. So that gave me a boost on expressing myself artistically again. I painted when I got inspired, sometimes continuously for hours and hours. That’s the way I work, always.

I am currently also a drummer in a band called Þrusk. We are maybe not that known, but I can tell you that we were the first band to play on a snow stage up in Bláfjöll (Blue Mountains) as a warm up for the band Dr. Spock in the middle of the winter.

I have also been very much in touch with matters of the spirit. I hired my dad once to translate a book about Zen, called Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, a book about quality of life and things that matter the most at the end of the day. In Icelandic we would say that I was an fjöllistamaður – which means that I am somewhat a multi artist. I am not only focusing on one art form and that’s they way I am.

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When did you start tattoo artistry?

I am a member of a motorcycle club, and they were always looking for someone that was skilled and artistic with a needle. So they had been encouraging me for a long time to do it, I had been a fan of this art form for years and had many tattoos myself. My wife bought me a start up equipment for tattooing, and they boys in my club were excited enough to let me practise, so I did just that and on human skin as well so that was a huge advantage for me.

My brother was running this place Mótorsmiðjan, and was looking for a tattoo artist, so I started out here. I try to focus on the tattooing and not on the drawing, at the moment, Siggi my coworker is drawing a lot and he is very talented and fast. Then as time passed by, me and Haddi who is a leather designer (Haddi Dreki) decided to open this up as a social club for bikers, and all those interested in the culture and the rock and roll lifestyle. Our organization is called the Motorheads, and we have around 130 active members. All members are welcome to spend time here, and those who want to tattoo each other can go ahead to do so.

And over there, you can see that we have various instruments here in front of our Café. There are many members of the club that are musicians, so they are free to play, grabbing whatever instruments they want and jam a little here whenever they want. They can drink coffee, form bands, or just play live music. This is an open stage, always.

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But what can you tell me about the hair saloon corner that I see over there?

Smutty Smiff is one of the most kown rockabilly heroes in the world today. He has played in many well-known bands with many of the most famous musicians in rock history. He is running a small hair salon here, in this rockabilly style, and we are the only store here in Iceland that offer those hair products, brilliantine hair wax for hairstyling.

So what is this business here in Mótorsmiðjan about, in general?

We are mainly running this to support our club, so we can get by sustainably. But we also give money to charity, for example we gave 100.000. – ISK the other day to the Children’s Hospital, Hringurinn. I really admire what they are doing there, my son got sick once so I have personal experience. We chose this organization because we know that their operation is run by heart and honesty. But yes, in general this is a social community for us bikers, mainly men. Women are always welcome though of course.

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“You don’t want to break in here, we will find you
before the police does”

So what groups belong to Mótorsmiðjan?

I am in a club called Hrafnar for example and Haddi is in a club called Þeyr. But that has in itself nothing to do with Mótorsmiðjan, it is for everybody bikers and non-bikers. Even though Mótorsmiðjan is situated in a neighborhood where there a lot of people living, they residents seem to like it because they think its good to have a motorcycle club in their backyard so thief’s would be less likely to invade the area. We also have a sticker in our window that reads: “You don’t want to break in here, we will find you before the police does”.

We have a small flea market here with used bikers outfits. Sometimes people are kind to give us used things that we sell. All the profits go to the organization for the basic things we need to pay for, rent, electricity the Internet and phone bills. If we have profited more than takes to run this place on daily basis, we give the profits away to charity. So I could proudly say this is an way, the Icelandic Red Cross Motorcycle club, for this reasons.

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What can you tell me lastly about the negative image that is often portrayed of the motorcycle culture in the media?

I can understand this negative portrait for sure, because if there is a story in the news on motorcycles, it’s mostly a story about a car chase, crimes or some bad accident someone had. Also in films, if there is a motorcycle club, it contains flocks of criminals doing this and that so its not very positive, the image is in my opinion very crooked in media culture.

“95% of bikers here in Iceland are indeed boy scouts”

People that know this culture know that 95% of bikers here in Iceland are indeed boy scouts. I am not kidding; they are the nicest people that I know. There are guys on Jeeps that are criminals too; you can find them in whatever group in the society. Imagine a criminal that drives a Benz for example, he is hopefully not giving all Benz owners in Iceland a bad name? Right? Well that’s what I think anyways.

We would like to thank you so much, Siggi Palli, for this great interview and yeah, we should encourage everybody to come here to Mótorsmiðjan?

Yes of course. Everybody is welcome, even though there is mainly testosterone in the air. The members of the Harley Davidson club have regular meetings here as our motorcycle clubs Þeyr and Hrafnar. We have actors, musicians, hippies and bums; you just name it the different characters that pop by to see us. We have all the range here in Mótorsmiðjan, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

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We leave with longings for café hangouts, tattoos, paintings made by Siggi Palli and a curiosity to know more about the society that Mótorsmiðjan is.

siggipalli.is
motorfactory.is
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www.hrafnarmc.is

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís
Photographs of tattoos: Siggi Palli

Berlinale – awards & photo competition

 

The last couple of days of the festival went quickly by. I wanted to try as many venues
as possible, to try to enrich my theater experience as well as wander around various neighborhoods, with my Berlinale bag on my shoulder.

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Filmstill from: Child’s Pose

Saturday

I decided to watch the award ceremony on a big screen outside the Sony Center, in the square where Cinestar theater, one of the venues of the festival. I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see many of them during the festival, but I really enjoyed watching this outdoor screening, even though the screen itself was a little to pixlated for my taste. The Golden Bear (Berlinale main prize) was awarded to Calin Peter Netzer’s Romanian drama Child’s Pose a film about a egocentric mother struggling to save her lost son.

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The Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear award was awarded to Danis Tanovic’s Bosnian film, An Episode in the Live of an Iron Picker  (2013).

The Silver Bear for best director was awarded to American David Gordon Green, the director of Prince Avalanche, which is an American remake of the Icelandic film Either Way (Á annan veg) by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson. The Original was much better in my opinion, portraying characthers and atmosphere that will live for a long time in my film- memory.

 

Filmstill from: Prince Avalanche

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Filmstill from: Closed Curtain

The best Screenplay was awarded with the Silver Bear, the Iranian film Closed Curtain by Jafar Panahi (2013).

The Panorama Audience Award went to narrative feature by Felix van Groeningen –  The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012), and documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing (2012). In the Panorama category on this years Berlinale, there were 52 productions from 33 countries.

The members of the 2013 International Jury were: Wong Kar Wai (President), Susanne Bier, Tim Robbins, Shirin Neshat, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Andreas Dresen and Ellen Kuras.

 

Sunday

I decided to attend a photo exhibition “Close up” whereas fourteen young photographers showcased their result, after they had been given the task of  presenting their personal view of the 63rd Berlinale in all its diversity—the red carpet, glamorous film stars, audience impressions, and various other things. With a special accreditation, the participants had the opportunity to try out their skills as professional photojournalists every day from 7th to 17th February 2013 at the Red Carpet and at a variety of special events. I had a great time, sneaking a camera out of my pocket taking photos of the guests. This was a fun ending to my great Berlinale experience, I am defiantly going again next year. Viva la Berlinale!

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And Yes. I am going to watch An Episode in the Live of an Iron Picker as soon as I get the chance to. I am so excited about that title.

berlinale.de

Words: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photos: Ása Baldursdóttir and Veera Pitkanen

Hnoss

We dropped by studio Hnoss in Toppstöðin, where we met two sparkling designers, illustrators and best friends, Droplaug Benediktsdóttir and Sísí Ingólfsdóttir. Founded in 2011, they aim for creating beautiful illustrations and transforming them into all kinds of products. Their wrapping paper and gift cards have been very popular and soon they plan on heading in the direction of product design for children, made out of wood.

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Where does the name Hnoss come from?

Sísí: When we started the process, we wanted to design something nostalgic together and we discovered this beautiful Icelandic name from mythology. The word means “precious” in Icelandic, we just felt it was fitting. And even though it’s Icelandic, it works well abroad even though it can be maybe a little hard to pronounce.

Droplaug: We also wanted to have the name short and easy to remember, we have noticed that the elderly people here really like it.

Sísí: Of course we Googled the name and we were a little bit bummed out that there URL hnoss.com had already been bought by a Japanese/Korean/Asian guy, and it costs a lot of money to buy it back. The URL hnoss.is was also occupied. But of course we registered the brand, and the categories that we wanted to design in.

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You are best friends I hear, how did this idea come up to start a design company?

Droplaug: Sísi had just arrived back home from her honeymoon in Thailand and yeah, I had newly finished my studies when we started, what I can say it wasn’t planned it just happened. We run a small business in a sense, the process is that we design smaller things that we can easily even out our budgets by selling, and we always try to keep the expensive s in a way that we can afford the next thing that we want to produce.

We originally planned to design children’s toys made out of Icelandic wood but that turned out to be too expensive. We then scaled down, and started designing gift paper. Today we have already designed six types of gift papers and many types of gift cards which we have on offer in five to six various stores in Reykjavík, so we are back to our original plan of designing children’s toys.

How has the combined design process been between the two of you?

Sísi: Well, it’s often like that one of us comes up with a design that the other one comments on, and has affects for example on the colour or the size of the design. We always both approve things before we send them out.

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How do you describe your style?

Droplaug: I am very fascinated by graffiti, street art and figures, but we both have similar kinds of styles so we connect very well when it comes to our sketches and designs. We have similar styles in a way, which I think is very interesting.

“We call our different designs; bábyljur, which means playfulness”

Sísi: We decided on our colour palette for our first Christmas gift papers production, 2 years back, that we couldn’t use strong colours because we were using this environmentally friendly paper. We want things to fit, and we always decide on these things together. We call our different designs; bábyljur, which means playfulness, which is perfect for our gift papers designs because we want to remind us that we are freely designing this and that, without having serious consequences if things are not working.

So, is the paper itself nature friendly?

Droplaug: We looked in to various printing companies, but we were immediately very fond of Guðjón Ó because he runs an ecological printers company here in Iceland. He introduced us to this recycled paper that we then decided to use for our designs. We liked the texture of this paper, and also for our concept in designing gift paper, that usually is disposable in a way. People wrap gifts in, and then they throw the paper away so we are happy to use this paper.

Sísi: But we are not necessarily going to print our designs here in Iceland, if we get a better deal abroad then of course we will. It is not good for a start-up like us to prize our products too high, just because we are paying for an inland service.

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What inspires you as designers?

Droplaug: I really like figurative elements, especially when I lived in London; I was very fascinated by street art and graffiti there. I remember a particular exhibition held by Tate Modern Museum that was all over the city that was very inspirational to me. I also intended to write my BA thesis about a stop-motion graffiti artist from Argentina that was very interesting and devoted in what he was doing. (here) He created so many great things, for example he made spiders crawl in to people´s houses and stuff like that. So basically this artist combined my two interest zones of drawing and animation into one. My teacher on the other hand didn’t like this idea as much, so I did something else for my BA thesis.

“I am a part of the Simpson generation”

But yes, this culture is not very visible here in Reykjavík; my friend came up with this idea that could make the city different in a way, he wanted to paint all the hydrants red with white dots, so we would have mushrooms in our city landscape all over the place. That would be interesting! It would also be refreshing to see more new ideas like this and of course graffiti, real graffiti, not tags. The tags annoy me in a way, but I’m not going to talk about that!

Sísi: I am a part of the Simpson generation; I had a dream to be one of their drawers actually when I was younger. I was a student in an acting school, but soon I found out that that didn’t suit me well enough. I was drawn to draw and design, me and Droplaug have that in common. It is different though when you are designing or drawing, that you keep in mind that you are producing a product that is to be sold. Me and Droplaug have sometimes illustrated or drawn something’s that are not appropriate, in relations to societal limits. But in our designs for our clients we are very appropriate.

Droplaug: Yes, we were thinking about opening an exhibition someday, to showcase our inappropriate art. This exhibition would be called in- appropriate, to refer both to the duality of the word, oh.. is this appropriate or if it’s just inappropriate in general.

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How are you received in the open market?

Sísi: We enjoy very much to participate in shows like Handverk og hönnun, Hrafnagil or Pop-Up markets, because then we can talk to our clients and they often express their opinions about our products. They often give us ideas about what they want us to design. For example they want us to design wallpapers, but that is a bigger production.

Droplaug: Yes, and also, its different to have a pattern permanently on or wall versus having a more complex art piece illustrated on the wall paper print. I think our prints, from our gift papers, would work more as wall stickers.

“I’ve heard it’s a very good meditation for people with ADHD”

I am drawn to your Origami that is all around us, do you sell those as well?

Droplaug: We sold a couple of those Origami’s before Christmas, but I love doing them. It’s so relaxing to make them, for example in front of the TV; it’s so repetitive and calm.

Sísí: I’ve heard it’s a very good meditation for people with ADHD.

Droplaug: We wanted to create lights or something out of this Origami´s. I learned how to make them on YouTube.

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How do you like to be a start- up here in Iceland?

Droplaug: We are so lucky to have so many good people around us, to advice us to run this business. But we are also taking things slow, so that has helped us a lot.

Sísí: We also have regular customers, other than our mothers! Sometimes people also drop by to our studio here in Toppstöðin, for a coffee and a chat. We sometimes also host open workshops that we advertise.

So finally, how is life outside work, do you spend a lot of time together?

Droplaug: Yes, we are together all the time! No, just kidding, we have the same group of friends though and we often spend quality time together.

Sísí: My children idolize Droplaug and her boyfriend, and we really think that is great.

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We wish the Hnoss team the best in the future, hoping to see their designs pop up in different kinds of mediums.

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Hnoss likes:

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Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photos: Nanna Dís