Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m an Icelandic visual artist based in Chicago. I studied at Iceland Academy of the Arts and at Academy of Art University.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I’ve been interested in art all my life and have been creating drawings and paintings since I was a little kid.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I have a studio in my basement. I don’t know if it’s a great place to make art, with its low ceiling, a hanging shop light as a light source, and creepy crawlies, but it’s peaceful and I manage to get work done there.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
The work I’m doing deals with the human figure, at times abstracting it into simple minimal forms and more frequently into repetitive expressionistic explosions. The subject typically alludes to the everyman, often referencing art history and popular culture, and employing a cartoon like style that reminds us of childhood, a sense of play, causing us to recall the past yet still taking us to that space where anxiety and humor often intersect. In my latest body of work I’ve also been exploring the existential dread of living as a foreigner in today’s America.
What is your process like?
I tend to start out with a blank canvas and put down a very heavily turped thin layer of Burnt Umber, which I push around until I’m satisfied with the shapes I’ve drawn out. I tend to work on multiple pieces at the same time.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
Lately the current political climate has been on my mind, and I try to mix in references of popular culture, art history, religious imagery and my upbringing in Iceland.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Dissect a raven. That was very strange and unpleasant.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I also do freelance work as an illustrator.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I’ve had some great professors that have guided me such as Margrét Blöndal, Eygló Harðardóttir, Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson, Kristinn Guðbrandur Harðarson, Goddur, Baoping Chen and Kazu Sano. The best thing a mentor can do is guide and push you towards what you truly want to say with your art, and breaking down the self inflicted barriers we all put up.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
Community is very important. Without it know one will know that you’re alive and you won’t be able to learn from others.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
After I drop my daughter off at school, I go down to the studio with a cup of coffee at around 8:30 and I’ll stay down there and paint till 3 o’clock. I like to listen to music or podcasts when I paint and often times I’ll just put on interviews or art documentaries on youtube and let it roll from video to video. 3-7 is family time, and when I’m done putting my girls to bed I’ll head back down to the studio and paint till about midnight.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Other than student loans (especially here in the States), I can’t see any reason where further educating yourself can ever be seen as a bad idea.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
My incompetence at schmoozing has to be up there.
How would you define “success” in art?
To be able to create art and feed your family.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I’m the most excited about the work that I recently created for my solo show “Loneliest Stranger” that opened this November.
What are you working on right now?
I’m just getting back into the studio since the opening of my show. So I’m starting to plan and laying out ideas for a new body of work.