From Iceland — Reflecting on The Grapevine’s First 100 Issues

Reflecting on The Grapevine’s First 100 Issues

Published September 17, 2009

Reflecting on The Grapevine’s First 100 Issues

The Reykjavík Grapevine has for some reason managed to stay in business for over six years and a hundred issues now. This is interesting for several reasons. More than anything, we were surprised when we realised that we had indeed made a hundred issues, and would be making issues for a while yet.
So we sat down with a big pile of our back catalogue and started flipping through it. Ah, memories. But not only memories, though. There was some genuinely great stuff to be found in there. Mostly we were awed by the ludicrous amounts of hard work and dedication a long, long line of editors and writers and photographers and designers and ad-sales people and illustrators and distributors and proofreaders and interns and coffee fetchers have shown throughout these hundred issues.
We felt an intense urge to mark this occasion somehow, to celebrate all the untold hours of hard work and all the untold (well, 4.644, to be exact) of discourse on, about, with and for Iceland, its people and its visitors. And the band t.A.T.u.
Spread around issue 101, you will find the covers of every standard Grapevine issue we’ve published, with commentary and info from the people that created them. In the next couple of spreads, however, you will find stories, photos, quotes and statistics that emphasize the magazine’s history, from its humble beginnings in a cramped 101 Reykjavík basement to its humble present in a cramped 101 Reykjavík penthouse.
We hope you enjoy.
Haukur S. Magnússon

A founder reflects on the Grapevine’s formative years
2002 in Prague
Well, I’ll be damned. I can’t remember half of it. It was fall 2002. I had just moved into a little flat in a rather large suburb of Prague. It was during my “post-college find your self phase,” and on that mission, my wingman and fellow self-seeker was my good friend Hilmar Steinn Grétarsson. Needless to say, the mission’s goal was carefully sought on a bottom of a glass, through litres and litres of Staropramen beer. We actually never reached the bottom. But somewhere along the way, we ran into this Prague based bi-weekly alternative English-language newspaper, The Prague Pill, or “The Pill,” if you will.
Since the notion of stealing The Pill’s concept, adjusting it to Iceland and starting our own publication was born in a misty haze of lager, I can only guess how the initial conversation went, having no idea who said what:
A: I don’t think we have anything like this back home, do we?
B. Nope
A: Should we make our own version of it and publish it in Reykjavík?
B: Sure.
During the next day’s hangover, we bought a bunch of A3 paper, pens and Post-its and drew up outlines to what would eventually become the Reykjavík Grapevine. They haven’t really changed since, although they are much improved by now.
From Laugarvatn to Reykjavík
I turned 21, I moved back to Laugarvatn. I started work for my old school along with Hilmar Steinn. Then, in March 2003, and after some discussions with Oddur Óskar, and Eymar Plédel, who liked the idea, and with the reassureance and support of photographer Aldís Pálsdóttir, we rented our first office space. It was a 25 square metre cellar at Blómvallagata 2, 101 Reykjavík. It was also my first home in Reykjavik. I often slept on the floor. So did Oddur.
I was broke. I think we all were. But we believed in our mission: To start a bi-weekly alternative listings based English language tourist magazine in Reykjavik. How to accomplish that mission? We had no idea. We had no background in publishing, no background in marketing, sales, writing. Anything.
We didn’t even know what to call the damn thing. Eymar’s friend, jazz pianist and advertising mogul Ólafur Stephensen, suggested we’d call it Grapevine. As in “hearing things through the Grapevine.” Nothing we had come up with was better than that. By adding Reykjavik in front of the Grapevine, we had a name. We had also stumbled across two promising young design students, Hörður and Gunni, who handed over to us the first layout, and Valur Gunnarsson, the editor to-be, along with myself. Truly the only one we had met in the preceding two months leading up to the first issue, that had any writing talent, myself included. Aldís accepted the tough job of staff photogrpaher, thereby becoming the embryonic publication’s only trained staff member.
Jón Trausti Sigurðarson

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