This has to be the most memorable concert I’ve been to.. ever! It was a Sigur Rós concert in July 2006, they were filming ‘Heima’ a documentary about their music and arranged gigs in various places mostly out in nature. This place, beneath the recognizable landmark ‘Hraundrangar’ mountains, is close to my parents house, only about 40 min drive. We heard about the gig the day before, we were actually spending some time at my parents house because we had sold our apartment in Reykjavik at the time, had shipped *all* our stuff to Denmark where we would be spending the next 2 years. So in a way this was an emotional moment of enjoying the Icelandic nature and saying goodbye for now.
The concert started at about 20:00 and ended a little over 22:00. The admission was free and there was no service available. Nobody expected it either. I remember one police car observing the roads, that’s the only security I saw apart from a couple of yellow vested boys showing us where to park. And the parking lot was the nearby grass field. We brought blankets to sit on and stay warm with temperature around 10-15°c but clear sky and hardly any wind and then just enjoying the music and the sound echoing in the mountains and watching the sun hardly going down.
(pic at the top is from here)
After a few weeks of feeling rather miserable, with 24/7 morning sickness and an appetite according to that and the fatigue that was exaggerated with not eating all that much, I’m starting to feel so much better. Thank God. Everything is for a good cause and this baby is so welcome to our family, her brothers are thrilled with the addition and my younger one can’t wait to become a big brother because he adores his own big brother so much. 😉
So it’s week 25 right now. Only 15 weeks to go.
At 18 weeks
Thing is, with this one being our third we don’t really have much to buy or take care of. We got a pram, a cot, lots of clothes and accessories – although most of them are blue-ish if this turns out to be a girl which is very likely (the doctor who did the ultrasound was not 100% sure) then my sisters both have 1-3 year old girls and we lend and borrow from each other. Lack of pink won’t be a problem. 😉
We also have a spare room in our house which will be turned into a baby room at some point and that will be very thrilling, I love decorating the house. There’s one thing we need though, a name. I thought that it wouldn’t be a problem since there are so many girls names that we adore, but choosing the right one is a puzzle. Maybe it will come to us when we meet her.
One of the most exciting projects we did at work last year was to illustrate a children’s book by a popular TV star, rock star and a friend of ours “Villi Jóns”. He decided to write a book for kids about science, all kinds of science and “scientific experiments”. Villi’s Science Book would be the translation of the title; “Vísindabók Villa”.
He contacted us, sent us the text he had written, which wasn’t very long for each spread so we had room for a lot of illustration. We thought of ways to illustrate it, making it appeal both to kids and their parents, so both of them would be interested in looking into things together and see how the world works.
Villi’s approach was to create curiosity in the kids minds, so they would start to ask questions and find ways to understand the world. He said that if the kids would get smart when they grow up then he’d have a better nursing home when he gets old, and maybe he’d get extra prunes or something.
Each spread would have a different topic, so the first spread was about dinosaurs, second about the solar system, the third about sound.. and so on… I illustrated the experiment spreads and a couple of the other and my colleague Gudrun at our design office Blek did the rest, as well as all the extra pages (index and such).
“Thunder and lightning” explained, using one of the most fameous landmarks in Reykjavik in a dramatic scene. Illustrated and layouted by me.
How to make a simple compass, using a needle, glass of water, cork and a magnet. Illustrated and layouted by yours truly
The project started in March and ended in June when the whole 96 page book, fully illustrated, layouted and prepared for print by us, was sent to print in Slovenia. The largest (almost dominating) book publishing company in Iceland decided to publish the book. Only 5000 copies were ordered in the first round, (seeing that the bestseller in children’s books is about 6000 copies). Note that there are only 30.000 kids of the age 6-12, which was our ‘target group’, who speak this language. The whole population of Iceland is 320.000 people. It’s a reeaally small country!
Exciting times came in October when the first copies arrived to the country and in the hands of the author. He was happy and sent us a bottle of champagne to celebrate! 🙂
It felt amazing getting hands on that book! The glossy hardcover, 25x30cm in dimension. Printed on the spectacular Munken uncoated paper. The fresh scent of ink, paper and glue. Mmm.. And the illustrations astonished us. They actually didn’t look that good on the monitor..
The Universe, earth and the Milkyway. Designed by Gudrun
We were really happy with the result. All of us. The goal was to make a book that we as designers would be happy with and proud of, regardless of what other people thought.
On October 10 it was published. 5.000 copies sent to the shops. We had made a website and a facebook page to support it but didn’t have any funding for more marketing. So that would have to suffice.
So ratings came in. The largest newspapers and all the main book critics loved it. 4,5-5 stars (out of 5) in all medias. In late October it became a bestseller, #1 in all sold books. Total – All categories. One critic even praised us for the illustrations, it’s not often that illustrators even get mentioned, let alone praised and thanked for.
In early November the book had almost sold out, the first 5.000 copies were almost gone and it had to be reprinted because the Christmas book season had only just started. Getting more copies from Slovenia would take months so it was decided to re-print it at Iceland’s largest printing company, the great printing office Oddi. That meant a whole new reprocess had to be made of the book with added startup cost. But obviously it was worth it because it sold out again in the same month, now 10.000 copies had been sold, the third edition started in late November, another 5000 copies made that had to last til Christmas. And it barely did. The printing office declined the request to print another 5000 saying that “they had other stuff to print this christmas, cards and such”. 😀
A newspaper interview with yours truly, the media was interested in how we approached the project.
So 15.000 copies almost sold out before Christmas, which made it the third bestseller of the year overall, bestseller in the Children’s books category by far and it was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize in the children’s book category, along with four other books. Results will be revealed in January.
We were gobsmacked. We had achieved something we never could have even hoped for. Even 15.000 copies sold meant that 50% of all kids aged 6-12 in Iceland owned this book that we made. 15.000 copies means that 4,7% of this countries population bought the book, in this small language area. I don’t know what these numbers would be if the ratio would be transformed onto any other country in the world. Must be some kind of a record. But Icelanders are pretty wild when it comes to books, like this BBC article explains.
So this little project pretty much tops everything else we did last year. Pretty much.
On January 26th we will participate in an annual exhibition in museum “Gerðuberg” which shows illustrations from recently published children’s books. The title of the exhibition is “This is what the children like to see”. The exhibition will travel around the country and be displayed in at least 7 different places this year.
Our pieces, in 50x50cm frames were:
Comets are actually just dirty snowballs
Happy New Year!
2013 was a good but a quiet year for us. We did a little bit of traveling, a lot of working, visiting friends and stayed healthy – which we are very thankful for – but there was not much action and I can’t really believe that there’s nothing that stands out.
Apart from one thing, in late October I found out that in June next year we’ll be adding to the family! 🙂 We’ve been to two ultrasounds and seen the little one kick and suck his thumb. Such a blessing! I’ve been feeling rather miserable though, done some proper porcelain hugging in November and got into the Christmas spirit a bit later than usual in December.
Christmas and the New Year was good though. The boys got new skis from us, ski boots and a helmet (which is a mandatory equipment up here) and we’ve been to the ski resort (about 10 min drive up the mountain) once since and they just loved it! I gave my hubby new Salomon winter shoes and got a “Hurom” slow juicer for Christmas from them, which I absolutely love!
School will start on Monday (Jan 6th) so we have the weekend to turn on the daily routine and get the boys to wake up at proper hours… I have a hunch that it’s going to be hard!
Officially Christmas ends on Jan 6th in Iceland, that’s 13 days from Christmas when the last of the 13 Santa’s will return to their home in the mountains. The decorations and the Christmas tree will be safely packed and stored (we have a plastic one, once had a living tree and the grief in January was just too sad..) but I think we’ll allow the Christmas lights in the windows to stay up, because it’s still so bloody dark all day outside.
New Years Eve dinner at my inlaws, along with my parents. My hubby was the photographer.
We did shoot some fireworks at our New Years party but it was nowhere near as crazy as in Reykjavik. The thing is, everybody is allowed to buy fireworks from Dec 28-31 and the main retailer is the “Icelandic Association of Search and Rescue” and it’s their biggest fundraising project each year. They enjoy tremendous goodwill around here and people are eager to support them by buying fireworks. That can be easily seen in a video such as this cool one. Taken by a guy who just got a small remote helicopter and a GoPro camera.
This is one of my favourite songs from this summer. Simple version of Beyonce’s Halo by icelandic band Hjaltalín. I think i’m responsible for at least half of the hits of this song on YouTube.
Another brilliant performance from Hjaltalín is from their live cd/dvd Alpanon, recorded with The Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Háskólabíó, June 2010. “Suitcase Man” is a capturing mysterious song, I love it!