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Interview with Mikal Strøm – Manager & Art Director, Brygg Magazine
By Kathy Compton for New Heroes & Pioneers

Three of the top four coffee consuming countries are held by those of Scandinavia. Aficionados ourselves, we had the pleasure to talk with Mikal Strøm, the Manager & Art Director of Norway’s Brygg Magazine, a celebration of coffee and conversation. The pages are filled with thoughtful musings between good people paired with Scandinavian inspired imagery.

Photo @anna_J_vaagland

 

New Heroes & Pioneers (NHAP)
Brygg’s coffee infused conversations bubble over with humanity, creativity and intimate, honest portraits of some of Norway’s extraordinary talent. The Norwegian Tourist board could employ the magazine as a marketing tool for seekers of the beautiful. As Brygg’s Manager and Art Director, can you share with us how the project was conceived?

Mikal Strøm (MS)
First of all, thank you very much for such kind words. The goal in the beginning was actually to plan, create and execute a meticulously detailed plan for what Brygg was going to be. What we forgot to take into consideration is that we, the makers of the magazine, are constantly changing. So how and why should we make a static magazine when we are not static as people.
We are three people in the staff, and Brygg is the body of the three of us combined, sort of.. We’re all interested to see how she’ll develop.

 

NHAP
A magazine of conversations and coffee- such a natural pairing and one never approached in the same way as Brygg handles it: what is the coffee connection: with you yourself and with each of the conversations?

MS
Some years ago I worked in a coffee shop and got trained in coffee tasting and brewing so when we started making Brygg in a small publishing house in Oslo we decided there was something about coffee that we wanted to explore. When we published our first issues we agreed that it was the conversations which take place over a cup of coffee, as writers met creatives, that were much more interesting than the coffee itself. Coffee is the facilitator of great conversations.

NHAP
You mentioned you are working on a deadline at the moment- how often do you publish and can you offer a brief overview of each issue’s journey to publication?

MS
It’s been different every time but we’re starting to get into a rhythm. It starts with the three of us meeting up for coffee and discussing different themes in which we are interested at the moment. Once we have decided on a theme we start researching the subject and find people and places we feel fit into the Brygg identity. 

NHAP
Is there anything in particular you love (or loathe) in the production phase?

MS
The best part of the production phase is definitely when texts and images starts pouring in. That’s when the last couple of months’ hard work start to manifest in results. All the abstract ideas and thoughts start to become something concrete and you realise that it will be great, this time also, or the best one so far.

 

NHAP
Brygg features a wide array of artists and culture. Please discuss the selection and curation process.

MS
The three of us working on Brygg, Amalie, Lene and myself are really very different people, so the selection is a mix of what we are interested in on some level. We try to find the right Brygg balance.

NHAP
Looking through your own portfolio, you have a strong style that seems to vary from the magazine quite a bit. how do you keep that delineation between the personal and the publication?

MS
I really like to work on a lot of different projects with different techniques and different styles. Most of the time I make something because I want to learn how to do it and I’m really curious about how it will turn out. Brygg is an outlet for me to work with my interests in the quiet and serene, and many of my other projects are outlets for the opposite, the quick, messy, stream of consciousness type of things.

NHAP
I find the magazine’s writing wonderful. It highlights that conversational aspect between the writer and (usually, her) subject. I found myself wanting to look up each of the writers because I loved their style so much. What is the collaboration process with the writers?

MS
We are so lucky as to work with a range of great freelance writers. And its true most of our writers are female, I don’t know why that is… Sometimes they pitch us stories and sometimes our editor Lene goes hunting for the right writer for the right feature. It is important for us that their own voice shines through in their writing, a personal pen has been important to us from the start, and we like to believe that this makes the process a lot more fun for the writers too. We put a lot of trust in our writers, and are seldom, if ever, disappointed by the end result.

@Mikal_Johannes_Murstad_strom

NHAP
When did you jump from digital to print and how do the two differ from one another?

MS
Brygg actually started out in print and turned digital later. We always wanted Brygg to be quiet, so print was the way to go. The website is kind of quiet as well, with no ads and a simple layout.

NHAP
Brygg is now offered in English instead of its original Norwegian. I am curious if the conversations take place in Norwegian and are then translated. If yes, I wonder if that has a special influence on the features.

MS
It depends, if a Norwegian writer has a conversation with a Norwegian artist, of course the conversation will be had in Norwegian. Obviously some things will get lost in translation, local jargon and the like, but it might also give the non-Norwegian readers more of an inside understanding of our culture.

NHAP
What has surprised you along the way of publishing a magazine that you might not otherwise have experienced?

MS
All of it, haha. Most of all there are so many amazing people, writers, photographers and people out there.

NHAP
Brygg offers a wonderful entry into Norway’s arts and culture. What in particular do you love about your country and want to share with the rest of the world?

MD
The thing I love the most about Norway, related to BRYGG, is the people who live here. I love our naivety. Or maybe not naivety, but what many people would call naivety. I think it’s more something like compassion.

But there are not just the individuals living in a country who make up what the country is, even if it is kind of a democracy. I also love the nature we’ve got here, but that’s not really Norway’s nature, it’s been here long before someone made these border lines on the map. 

NHAP
How very true. Thank you Mikal. Brygg’s next issue is being released at the beginning of June. You can pick up your own copy by visiting their website: www.bryggmagasin.no

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www.mikalstrom.com

Written by

Writer at large; Singer for Panda Transport; Lover in Lomma Sweden; Made in the USA

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