Sig Vicious

Snoop-Around interviews Siggeir Hafsteinsson – Sig Vicious for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #6 18.5.2012Part of this interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

The graphic designer Sig Vicious started out with a computer and a vision, making his ideas comes true through visual mediums. He started out fifteen years ago and has since then run his own advertising agency, worked freelance and for various companies and agencies. His unique style in digital graphic shows often in his intense works, explosion on the canvas, which he often blends with popular culture icons, politics or humour, all blended in with his colour palette that is very artistic and authored by many means.
We got to visit Sig on a musky Sunday morning, greeted by home-made delicacies.

Did you take interest in design at an early age?

Well, when I was thirteen I had an Atari computer and was a part of a computer clique. I started drawing in a program where the resolution was 480×320 and you could choose from 16 colors. I didn’t do well in school, so I spent a couple of years working at a bakery and the shipyard, but I took interest in design again in my early twenties.

“The first thing I made was a flyer for a fashion show at Hótel Borg; it was epically ugly”

Did you wind up studying graphic design?

No, I’m completely self-taught. I wanted to become a graphic designer and I knew that I had to learn how to use Freehand, a program that some designers used back then. I went to Siberia for three months in 1997 and used my time there to master Macromedia Freehand completely. When I returned, I got a job and started working on brochures and stuff like that. Lets just say I have grown to what I am today; you are always learning and developing as an artist. Some of my early work isn’t very good when I look at it now. The first thing I made was a flyer for a fashion show at Hótel Borg; it was epically ugly. I made it in Photoshop and used something called difference clouds. I was very happy with it at the time.

Are you influenced by other people’s work?

Well, I’m inspired by a lot of things, but it doesn’t play directly into my own work. I take a lot of interest in street and graffiti culture, even though I’m not doing it myself. One of my favorite artist is Jose Parla, a calligrapher, he mixes calligraphy and graffiti together, and I think that is very great. You’ve recently designed some EVE-online artwork. We can see the digital attacks right here on your wall! Yeah, so first I took a couple of old photographs from Reykjavík and superimposed them with spaceships from Star Wars. Then I wanted to develop the idea further using more original material, so I got my friend Oscar Bjarnason to take photos and used ships from the EVE-online game as models. I have actually received a bit of feedback from the EVE community; they say that the scale of the ships is incorrect. However, they should know that this is art, not EVE reality!

So, you always worked for others or what can you tell me?

No, I owned my own company for a while with my partner Snorri Barón and we had a lot of kids asking for jobs, and I always asked about their portfolios and was not interested in their educational background. The work speaks for itself in my opinion. We did a lot of different things back then, Egils Orka if you remember that with Friðrik 2000. We worked on things for Vífilfell, Sprite, Fanta and we did all the commercials for Rautt, Íslandssími. Actually one of them got banned for television screening, the competition was doing commercials with the good kids with pink ribbons while our commercial was about how it is in reality, being a teenager, all the ugly stuff and tryouts. But I’ve done it all if that was your question, worked for others, myself and done various projects and so on.

“I like to ask for two or three keywords, but other than that
I can do whatever”

What do you find most fun about being a designer?

I most love making vinyl covers because I am typically given a lot of artistic freedom. I like to ask for two or three keywords, but other than that I can do whatever. The last cover I did was a single sided vinyl one with Goldie, the song is on one side, and on the other side the lyrics are carved in to the vinyl. I think its an epic one, its number 100 from Metalheads, and is signed by Goldie himself. I usually do two or three covers per month, and I really like doing it. I have also designed books and such.

How does one approach you?

The best way is to send me an email. And if you want to buy my stuff you just send me an email.

Has the foreign press shown you interest?

I’ve been interviewed couple of times. But I don’t like if they ask me about the Icelandic influence and if they are always connecting my designs or art standpoint to something that has to do with Iceland. I think it’s a silly approach to designers.

What are you doing now and what does the future hold?

Well I’m working for a commercial agency. Of course I like to work at a small company, as an artist, but you cannot live exclusively by making flyers and vinyl covers. I’ve done projects for big companies like HP and Nike in the past, and this kind of work is very different in terms of project size and pay. I think I will be doing this as long as I have the freedom to create.

We left Sig Vicious apartment, munching on home baked muffins that he had offered us during the visit, thinking about those digital attacks he creates in Reykjavík, online, as music artworks and in so many other places. We wish him a great future, in his creation of digital worlds.

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís