Árni Már Erlingsson is an Icelandic visual artist who runs the fantastic Gallery Port on Laugavegur. Here is what made him the artist he is today.
It’s nice to look back and see where it all got started. When I was starting to be interested in art everything around me was covered in hip hop. So my first influences came from graffiti. I started running around late at night scribbling some crappy tags and throw ups around town. A friend of mine was often in Denmark and when he came back he always brought some fresh posters from the Danish graffiti crew Toys. So that was my introduction to the scene.
But artists like Blek le Rat, Basquiat and Keith Haring were real influences when I started doing exhibitions and murals and stuff like that. I remember my style was quite different to what people in Iceland were used to and it took some time for me to be accepted into the scene here. But later on when I started my studies I fell immediately for Icelandic artists like Birgir Andrésson, Hreinn Friðfinnsson and Sigurður Guðmundsson. I can’t say that they influenced my works like Basquiat and Keith Haring did, except maybe Birgir Andrésson.
Snorri Ásmundsson Helped
During my studies at the School of Photography I learned that being productive opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I have never been the best student, but there I figured out that being willing to work a lot I would get interesting projects and exhibitions. I’m not saying that’s the right way around, it’s more the way I went. I worked some time for older artists and I helped out with a project Snorri Ásmundsson was doing and things like that taught me a lot.
Working With Talented People
I have been extremely lucky getting the opportunity to work with a lot of talented people and that has made it possible for me to do things I would have never accomplished alone. With a group of young artists, we made an art festival which later grew to Leipzig, Berlin and later on to Amsterdam. I think we worked with around 3-400 artist and musicians from all around the globe. We did exhibitions in several cities in Europe and later on me and Dóra Hrund Gísladóttir opened up a studio in Berlin.
After all this I moved back to Iceland and today I live and work here. When I got back, a friend of mine called and offered me a space during the summer of 2016 in the middle of Laugavegur. The plan was simple, do a lot of exhibitions, concerts and parties over the course of one summer. Accidentally, we grew into being an artist-run space. Then we opened up a shared studio space where we have six artists. Now, three years later, we have Gallery Port, an exhibition space and an edition gallery in collaboration with Mál og Menning.
Careless, Not Too Sensible
I think it helps me to be a bit careless and not too sensible, that way I never think of what really could go wrong and I always tend to think that when things go wrong I will figure out a way to sort that out. And, of course, throughout the years I have learned to be more responsible and learn from all of the things I have done.
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