31 December 2010

Bearhugs!

I skipped an important day this year... on November 14th the blog turned one year old (tadaaaa). It was supposed to be a big celebration and all, but instead I entered the big day in a black hole with a nasty hangover. But it is a big event, and now that the year is coming to an end (and already has in some parts of the world), I want to thank each and every one of you for following and commenting and making it such a cosy place for me to hang out.

It has turned out to be much more of a pleasure than I ever expected it to be, and you have been so kind. At no point has anyone even seen fit to correct my spelling errors and improvised use of punctuation rules. I can't tell you how grateful I am for that too. Next year there will be an appropriate celebration of this big day, but for now I just want to wish you all a happy new year.






Big warm bearhugs for everybody!





28 December 2010

Well put

When it comes to street art, it is all about location: if a piece is placed just right it can bring out a whole new dimension. In Copenhagen few understand this better than the mysterious zoo keeper, whose work I first encountered on that happy summer day back in July. It is not mass produced, but rather meticulously hand painted work with such attention to detail that it almost makes me cry. Each piece is unique, and they are understandably hard to come by. But it still happens, and my heart skipped a beat when I spotted this woodpecker the other day. See what I mean:



No clues left behind on these unsigned pieces. These animals belong to themselves only.



Taking it one step furter from the earlier works in all color pencils, with brush work. Acrylic?

Since the first time I have spotted a few more, that I have been saving for the right moment. Like right now. Again with the perfect positioning. First I spotted the white bird...




...and moments later just down the same block, the silk monkey. The people who owns this building (I shall name no names) pride themselves of supporting culture, but this monkey was quickly coated in a layer of black paint. I almost died when I found out. The true act of vandalism in this case was not putting him there, but painting him over. But I can still feel the outline of him there, he's not gone, just hiding. And I am happy to tell you that the white bird is still around.

One more from this summer, and the color pencil days:





(you have no idea how I have longed to show you these, haha)

27 December 2010

Re-think time

It's the oddest thing, but I feel like I have not been 100% me the last couple of days. Like things have somehow been left up to my autopilot. But this afternoon I returned, and I am back in charge. It could be the 12 hour nap, or the insanely hot little Italian chili (haha, I know what you are thinking) that got me through it, I am just grateful I did.

I made my way to the book market again, on this second last day. It turns out I did miss stuff the last time, and as I paid the guy I asked if he would be back for another go, and if it would then be with the same books. He gave me a sad look and told me that all books not sold by tomorrow, will be disposed of. It kills me, he said. But the used books business is bleeding, and at this rate it will be extinct within the next 3 years at the most. This is when my brain jumps into solution-mode: it is time to re-think. If old books are being burned by the truckloads, perhaps the time has come to find other uses for them? I remember seeing this cool desk on the internet recently:


Library information desk (photo borrowed from Recyclart).

When books are free (like after business tomorrow), why don't some furniture guy go nuts, and make some cool stuff? Or look at what this artist came up with:



There should be a serious meeting of minds to figure out how we crack this nut. Urgently, apparently. I refuse to believe that we can't come up with a better plan than to burn our books. You know that I love the internet, but not as a replacement for (all) books.

Tell me it does not break your heart that this could all be gone by this time next week:



Mr. Bad News

A kiss before dying

As I was walking home (in more snowfall, crazy romantic), I passed the Copenhagen Cathedral, a church seriously re-thinking things too at the moment, with a night church Xmass ChillOut (featuring Dreamhub). In an attempt to face my religio-fobia, I took a careful step inside. And I wish I could show you how beautiful it looked, this huge room only lit by candle lights, but it was a strict no-photography zone. But even if I had not been too starved to stay for the event (as in running on the fumes of two fried eggs and a cup of coffee), I still don't think I would have, seeing that a couple of preacher-men were also scheduled to speak. I'm just not ready for that. Not sure I'll ever be.




24 December 2010

Jul

Well, I can tell you this about the Danish jul this year: it's white. We have so much snowfall that some people are stuck in their houses, unable to join their families for the celebrations. The jutlanders have left the city, and only the hard core remains (hi). Some go out after dinner tonight, to meet up with old (younger) friends, there are not a lot of places open, but those who are, are always packed. I went one year and half of the people I talked to were living abroad, and just here for the family jul. There is nothing like talking to new and interesting people to kick the jule blues (actually talking to you helps too).

Although I don't celebrate jul, there is one thing I never ever miss: the Disney jule show on TV. Is it the same in every country in the world, I wonder? I know that the Swedes have it too. Every year it is the same, only with a couple of highlights from the new productions. But it is the old stuff that gets me. The cricket (Jesper Fårekylling, oooooohhhhh you kill me, I LOVE YOU), and the dogs (Lady and Vagabonden) and the chef yelling at Tony, and Donald Duck (Anders And) and the kids (Ungerne, Rip, Rap and Rup)... it is on in about an hour. Then there is unpacking to do, because my sweet friends have surprised me with presents, and then I go to eat and drink the mother of all jule dinners with some good friends. That should take care of the jule blues for today at least (two more days to go).

I hope you eat well, and get lots of love and have a merry fantastic day.


Max von Sydow says "skål!"

(rinse and repeat)


22 December 2010

Who farted?

The countdown has begun and jul is just around the corner. If I am going to show you the Copenhagen jule lights, now is the time. In a way it is touching how everybody pulls out all the stops, considering the choke hold of the financial crisis (a subject more taboo than exposed private parts, do not bring it up, people will look at you like you just farted). But somehow it is like a corner of the blanket has been lifted, and we are slowly getting back in business. It's that, or jul has finally gotten to me...




The Kings New Square department store Magasin, formerly Magasin du Nord. Unlike the competing department store Illum one block over, they do not have elaborately decorated windows. But then they have the lights and the best location in the city. 

I never noticed this before, but the decorations are different depending on the street...


It can be stars, hearts or cut outs, always with lots of lights and pine branches. 


And then something entirely different on Norrebro, with a floor show.



The advertising agency People Group. Can you make it out? The lamps form a jule-tree and on the top floor you have the star.



Jule heart decor at Le Klint, home of the creepily popular sculptural white lamps.


The Niels Bohr institute. If you look real fast it is like a movie... (no?). The lights are shifting randomly every other second, looking like giant snowflakes. This house is sitting next to a big road, not a pedestrian area, and still they make a show. I see that as a sign of defiance and strength, not giving into doom. We are going to kick this financial crisis' ass. One day at the time.

(I am contaminating myself with the jule spirit here. That's a first, haha)


20 December 2010

Nothing beats paper

The old book market in the church is madly inspiring this time. I am happy for those who are happy with the e-books, but for me nothing beats paper. Or maybe I should say old paper. Today it looks like they all print on the same bleached page, and the creativity in book design pales next to the old ones. Maybe there is someone out there with a great explanation to why all books must look, feel and smell the same today? Here is some of the stuff I find really inspiring. Details as always, where else will you find the higher meaning? I'll try to explain what it is about it that so rocks my world.

The hole:

A hole

Not on purpose, but that is not important.. how cool would it be with intentional holes in the paper, maybe a two-layer paper cover, or something to create a peep-effect? That is a whole story waiting to be told before you even start the book. If a book called out for me like that, I would pick it up and give it a chance to explain itself.

The format:



I love the odd format. This one is called Hvedekornet (The Wheat Grain), I think it is poetry. I grew up with the square little children's "Pixi books", and ever since I have dreamed of making one of my own. I will go ahead and add that to my to do list.

Intro:

Vintage book paper

Spiderweb print

Before you even start the book, you are seduced with spiderweb printed paper. How can you not develop a relationship with this book, and want to keep it till you die? I think someone did.

The box set:



For leaflet material. How simple is that, to make a cool box to collect your subscriptions in? Making it more than something you throw away after reading, but inviting you to to collect it (this will only work if no corners are cut, it must be cool, ah, imagine..). Taking it to another level.

Branding:

Embossed sticker vintage Magasin du Nord

Hello goosebumps! Back in the day one of our biggest department stores Magasin (still around), was called Magasin du Nord. From what I can gather, it was the height of Copenhagen shopping. I will be kind and just say that things have changed since then. But what a pity to have that history and not take advantage of it. And maybe try to bring back that loving feeling? I am halfway there with that embossed sticker.

This one just had a cool typography (reads: watch out for the police). 



Love very much how the dots are inside the i's. I should have bought it.

Colored sides:

Colored sides, where did they go?

Why is that over? One of my favorite things is colored sides. And that goes for the old paperbacks too. I want to eat them.

Paper:

Sandpaper book cover (reads: about time)

This one is more recent, a Swedish publication about modern art, made of sandpaper. Oh yes. The title reads: about time, and my eye is happy with the fact that instead of a circle over the A, it's a dot. Spelled out 1980s digital clock style. Be still my heart. The surface is killing everything it comes in contact with, but it's still crazy cool. Once encountered, impossible to forget.

The room:



All these books... I need to go back one more time and make triple sure I did not miss anything. If you are in the neighbourhood, the market is on until the 27th of December in Helligaandskirken. All books sell for 5 kr on the last day.


19 December 2010

The gift shop is open

This weather... I can’t bring myself to be annoyed with it. It is temperamental, and I like that, it’s a sign of life. Besides where there is snow, there is sun, and nothing beats keeping an eye on the sky. A couple of days ago, it was thawing like it was all over, and I caught these beautiful glassy popsicles right outside my house (ain’t life a gift shop sometimes?):





And two days later is starts snowing again non-stop, the good squeaky kind, perfect for building snow people. Look what someone made in my backyard this morning, I love that they built in some back support, haha:


It is Sunday, and all the stores are open today, for people to go jule-crazy. But jul will not suck me in, I am going to the book market in the church (remember that one?), this time it is by an antiquarian going out of business, quality stuff. You can expect a book’ish report coming up, with cool covers and inspirational typography. It is okay to judge a book by it’s cover, if its really good:




Ah, a small cartoon pasted on top of the cover, crazy nice!

Life is good :-)

17 December 2010

A jule classic

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I am allergic to 99% of modern advertising. If it is made in Denmark (for a Danish audience) it is likely to be condescending, stupid and ugly. Like the toe curling “naked” couple in latex outfits selling telephone subscriptions, oh, give me a break (I will spare you the sight). More often than not it is designed to make you feel small or inadequate, and the over sexual language is in my humble opinion partly responsible for the youngest generation hating their body image. That’s quite a feat.

And that’s just the material. Then there are the places we are forced to deal with it. Like everywhere, loud, big, blinking, on scaffolding, buses and every surface available. We have somehow come to accept that advertising pays for our lifestyle. The bus stops are nothing but large displays for advertisers, and just around the corner from me the City just planted a large advertising column, renting out space for the highest bidder.

But I am not against advertising as such, so long as it is informative, aesthetic and perhaps entertaining. But it so rarely is. In the spirit of Jul, I will give you an example of good advertising. It is a piece made back in 1984 by the now retired grandfather of Danish advertising Peter Wibroe, who was famous for carving his very own path. Not making use of survey groups and looking at the competition, but simply going by how he felt. At his core he believes that you must earn the attention, and never disrespect a persons time.

If you are Danish you know this one: the Tuborg jule-brew commercial. Every year on J-day (the official jule brew day, I was gonna link to the time when I told you about it, but it turns out I only published it in my head, haha, you have that one coming then..) it marks the beginning of jul on your TV. Never a dry eye in the house:





Cheers to a good jul!

15 December 2010

A hot tip

Way back in November a fellow tweeter was the first to tip me about a nice piece of street art (how cool is that?!), attaching a treasure map and everything.



It was not far from my house, so I immediately went looking but as far as I could tell, it was gone already. Still, in the back of my mind it bugged me that I missed it, especially because it was a knitted piece, and those I don't see too often. And then yesterday I found it!

Sometimes I think of life as a hunting ground, you must stay alert at all times, and tuned into what is important to you, otherwise you might miss it. Some things ask a little more of you, that you slow down, look harder, look at it in a different context or from a different angle. It puzzles me that I have passed this particular piece for over a month, and only see it now. But I am happy that I finally did.



A traffic light on a traffic light. 



...happiness (lykke)


Soft happiness (Blød lykke)

Thank you for the tip Alberto!

13 December 2010

Neon King

Of all the vintage landmark neon signs in Copenhagen, the Irma strip is King, I think of it as my own little Vegas. The crown piece is the egg laying hen from 1953, with her very own neon-egg counting fan website (made by even bigger nerds than me, haha). 

The neon strip lining the lakes is a defining part of the skyline, and it is always the first thing I look for when I return home from a trip out of the country. I have been meaning to show you the Irma hen for ages, battling the night time camera settings, but I think I finally got it. It just happens that the sign has frozen, so all the eggs are showing at once. That's not how it is supposed to be, but for the sake of the full picture, it may not be a bad thing. 

Tadaaa:




This used to be the headquarters of Irma. Thankfully they left the neon behind when they moved.


Hard to beat...

...but this one is a contender:



The liquorice "Ga-Jol" sign used to live next to the recently retired neon frogs on Osterbro, now relocated on Vesterbro. The Gajol is flying through the air, like the eggs, and the sign reads: the Danish weather is Ga-Jol weather. I get weak in my knees just looking at it, crazy nostalgia.

When the time comes for the big Classic Copenhagen Awards, these two are nominated in the category "Best Neon Sign".

11 December 2010

Armsrock and the milestones

Yesterday was extraordinarily good to me! I went to see the new show by local street artist Armsrock at the WAS gallery, and for once I was early. Or rather I got there in just the right time before the crowds, with all the room I needed to get my shots. The show "Nocturne On A Drainpipe Flute" is slides of letter sized pencil drawings, projected on the walls and ceilings in the small gallery. When the spectators get caught in the cross lights, they are projected alongside the famous life sized Armsrock characters. Like a fairy tale winter edition of the street version, where real people blend with charcoal on newspaper. To say I was exited about this show would be an understatement.

The gallerist was showing me the book of drawings for sale, and seeing my excitement, he suggested that I'd cross the room and say hello to the artist. How big is that? I mean not (only) that I am finally able to meet this guy who has made my day on so many occasions, and for so many years... but the fact that we have come to the point where a street artist can come out of the shadows and take credit for his work? I felt like I was standing at a milestone, right there.

A couple of us wondered about the repercussions of "coming out" like that... is there a fine for paste up enterprise? Yes there is, but only if you are caught in the act. Then it will cost you 510 dkr (some $100 US). And that goes for posters too, but unlike street art, postering is a well paying business, with a separate budget for slaps on the wrist. But there is no cause for alarm: the City of Copenhagen has already consigned Armsrock to do artwork on two separate occasions, doing what he jokingly calls VJing for the City, with huge projections of etchings on city walls. Pretty cool, Copenhagen.

From the enormity of his work and the heaviness of subject, I always imagined that the artist behind it would be a dark and brooding character. But there you go.. he was the kindest man on earth, and not only that, he reads my blog already. Can we fit another milestone in here at all? I was handing out some of my brand new cards (I'll show you soon), but he did not need one, because i am already in his toolbar. I can tell you I'm real comfortable there.

Cart pushing

Lady in fur by Armsrock

Armsrock projected in WAS gallery

Graffiti slide

People in Metro by Armsrock

I can't stop. I wonder if it is too heavy to load? It was even hard to leave the show too..

Armsrock hug projected on ceiling

This one was projected on the ceiling, and I still feel like I was interrupting a private moment.

A link fest:


"Nocturne On A Drainpipe Flute" is running until January 15th.