The founder and the idea
About the founder of Look: Viking! and how he came bout this idea
A descendant of Ragnar Lothbrok, Queen Aslaug and Bjorn Ironside wants to elevate the artistic heritage of the Vikings to a new height
It was a long time ago that this story started.
The fascination that the founder of Look: Viking!, Mr. Sven Sigurdarson, has for the artistic styles of the Vikings, started long ago, when the founder was an art school student. His chosen subject of research for an essay he wrote in art history was the jewellery of the Vikings. Although he had enrolled in general visual art studies, his interest was not less in the field of designing fashion, which was a line of study that wasn‘t offered in his country at the time. Sven thus only took the first year at the art school, which was a year focusing on setting the foundation in all types of media, and then the students would choose their field, which could be painting, sculpture, pottery, graphics design etc. Fashion wasn‘t on the curriculum then, although it is today.
Sven had been sketching fashion design ideas for some years, but in the year before he enrolled as a student in his country's primary art school, Sven did make a collection of clothes. These were hand painted on silk, and then sewn together by a tailor. Each jacket was made in only one copy, and thus was a unique work of art. Hand painting on fabrics isn't extremely common, but Sven sees that as a very interesting medium. Sven held a private exhibition of the clothes and his sketches, in an art gallery owned by his grandparents, in the basement of the house where they ran their import business and shop selling supplies for artists.
The pictures below show the creation of the hand painted clothes, image from a fashion show he held, and images from the exhibition.
Not long after his art school studies, Sven was considering that the artistic creations of the Vikings weren‘t represented very prominently in high-quality fashion and luxury products. He got the idea that many of the forms created by Viking artisans more than a thousand years ago could be well suited for printed scarves, (which are relatively simple products and less complicated than sewing clothes).
He did spend some considerable time developing such a concept. He created several basic designs, based on Viking age art, and set up a printing shop in his parent‘s garage to do some test prints, using the silk screen printing technology. These plans weren‘t realised at the time, but he never forgot about these ideas, and always though this was a great idea.
In the makeshift print shop in his parent's garage: Doing silk screen print tests on silk scarves with a Viking pattern.
Sven wasn‘t focusing on scarves because he was particularly interested in scarves as such. The point was, that scarves were a relatively simple product. He saw that he could perhaps produce scarfs. Making clothes is a more complicated and expensive process, simply because Sven didn‘t have much training in those fields. But before, he had primarily been dabbling with designing fashion, as a hobby.
After trying, and abandoning the idea of producing scarves, Sven enrolled in business studies, where he spent four years or university studies. He finished with a Cand. Oecon. degree in business administration, with a certain emphasis on marketing. He finished with first class grades ("rite absoluto gradum candidati oeconomiae laudabilem obtinuisse it says on the certificate"). After that, other projects and jobs took over.
Sometimes he dreamt that in his retirement years, he could perhaps take up the fashion design again, and focus on hand painting unique pieces, for instance on fabric, which could then be made into dresses or blouses by someone who knew more about pattern making and tailoring. But going into that then, didn‘t seem relevant or realistic.
Two things were the reason that he decided to pursue these ideas again. He has been working on developing a line of products for pets. That is a therapy product, to help pet owners deal with sound phobia in pets – a line of products that is nearly fully developed and is close to being launched. In connection with that, he was considering the option of offering vairous products on the side, for instance t-shirts and such. These could be sold and produced and delivered via the print-on-demand and drop ship fulfilment model.
He saw that a company was offering the production of scarves, which could be offered on the Internet through a web store, and the scarf would be produced as a single piece and sent to the buyer, after the purchase had taken place. All that the designer needed to do was to produce a high-quality image in a design program, and the upload it to this producer over the Internet. This got him thinking about his old idea of the printed Viking scarves. He saw that not only would it be possible to offer scarves, but also a number of other products. The Internet, and print-on-demand solutions, had opened up possibilities that he would never have dreamt of at the time when he was doing the test prints on scarves in his parent‘s garage. The author, despite becoming interested again in clothes design, didn‘t know much about pattern making, tailoring or clothes production. He was mainly in pattern making and illustrations. But these new production possibilities by print-on-demand services could suit very well for his focus.
Maybe he could breathe life into this idea, and not only that, to offer Viking age designs on many other types of products? Would this be a good time for that?
He then remembered about the TV series Vikings. A few seasons had been shown on television in his country, so he decided to Google that. It turned out, that Season 5 would premiere just a few months later. Obviously, Viking themed products could be ver y relevant for those who follow the show, and also those who are generally interested in the Vikings and their styles. There were a number of products being offered in a Viking style(or an alleged Viking style although Sven, with his knowledge about the actual art styles of the Vikings, wasn‘t particularly impressed by some of the products he saw – but that‘s not really his concern). However, the Viking style offerings available on the market weren‘t quite of the kind that he was thinking about.
So it might be a good idea to try this?
After this realisation, things happened quite quickly. Sven went to a drawer and took out a thick envelope with photocopies of pictures of Viking age jewellery, which he had gathered more than two decades earlier, when a student in the art school. He scanned in some images and set to work. Just a week after deciding to check these possibilities out, he uploaded to the website of the company that makes the scarves an image of the first design. There were parts of four versions of the first pattern, on one scarf, with some color patches and text to test the printing quality, and what would look good and what not. When the test prints arrived, he saw that the quality was very high. He had then added two designs, and ordered test prints of these three, which arrived around two weeks later. They looked very good, and there was no doubt in his mind that he would be able to revive this old idea of making scarves, and even other types of products too.
Sven then got the idea that it might be fun to do a part of the design process itself, and broadcast it in a live video, so that others might follow that, and even comment and critique in real time. This idea was influenced by two, or perhaps three things. First, some time ago, he had seen where the Canadian EDM star (EDM stands for electronic dance music) Joel Zimmerman, who is better known under his artists name Deadmau5, was doing a live video while he was at home, checking and answering tweets and PM‘s, listening to sound samples, and generally just hanging around. Yet, there were hundreds, even thousands, watching. I found that quite amazing. Another influence is Joel (wnat‘s this about the name Joel?). This time it was the potter Joel Cherrico, who hosts live videos on Facebook while he forms clay into drinking vessels by hand, on a spinning platform that he turns using his feet, the old way. His broadcasts are watched by hundreds every time. The third influence is a star of 80‘s and 90‘s TV, Bob Ross, who hosted his popular show The Joy Of Painting, where he seemingly effortlessy created paintings of mountaintops bathed in sunset, and „happy little trees“, with millions watching on PBS.
Drawing up patterns of the kinds that the Vikings created, to use them in printed products, is a time consuming work and not suitable for direct broadcast. But what about the process of creating different color combinations? It could be feasible, and fun to watch. And then directly after, when the design was ready, it could be uploaded to a print-on-demand service on the Internet, and offered directly for sale to those who had been watching. Sven checked on the Internet if others were doing a similar thing, andfound aout that he couldn‘t find any. This would mean that doing exactly this could be a first-time, which makes it not less interesting.
It didn‘t take him a long time to decide, that he would launch these ideas, and go in his own little Viking journey into this area. New and promising „lands“ could well be waiting beyond the horizon.
The goal is to elevate the art of the Vikings into new heights, by offering well designed products, that will honor the artistic heritage of the Vikings, rather than focusing on their heritage as raiders, although of course it is okay to have that focus if anyone is mainly interested in that.
By analysing current business models in the fashion and luxury sectors, he saw that what he has termed as Live Stream Design includes parameters, regarding the interaction between designer and the market, that are fundamentally new. Along with the brand and online shop Look: Viking!,he also established the website www.livestreamdesign.com, to explain this business model and how it relates to the current business models, as well as showing the results from when he searched the Internet to see if someone else hadn‘t been doing the same thing before? This, in itself, could be a very interesting innovation in this field.
In terms of the cultural foundation behind the Look: Viking! brand, Sven is quite well rooted. He traces his ancestry in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, all old time Viking areas. In fact,he is a direct descendant of Ragnar Lothbrok, and Bjorn Ironside, and can produce his line of ancestry over more than 1200 years. Just for fun, this line of ancestry is included here on this page.
The ship is ready for the high seas, the wind is now filling the sail. Where will this journey take us?