After two really enjoyable years of Menningarnótt, or "Cultural Night" I decided that I wanted to contribute something to the scene, not just enjoy the arts of others. I'd been wanting a bit of a creative outlet, not really having been doing much imaginative work at my day job at the time. My beer has always been very well received, but selling beer is downright illegal, at least without a license, and it's cultural night, not just about alcohol, so with the help of some friends, the idea of art beer was born. (I think original credit goes to Wolfgang, can't remember)
Of course, I hadn't painted with a brush since probably primary school, though possibly first year of high school. This was going to be fun! I learnt a lot, about colour mixing, about water and pigments, about brush quality, about why people don't normally paint on glass, about how much time and money goes into even the simplest seeming art pieces.
I had brewed a special beer, designed to be ready for the day, though a shortage of bottles meant that the beer wasn't really at prime drinkability on the day, and some of the paintings had only been finished the night before. Painting two dozen beer bottles was more of an artistic endeavour than I'd expected, though given how much I was learning, I'm sure I could do it a lot faster now.
Eventually the day dawned, and I set out loaded down with stock and signage, ready to be part of the day. I even painted a t-shirt to wear. "Drink Ale!" it said. (For those not familiar with the icelandic market, there are no domestic ales available, and the only ales available on tap anywhere are irish, it's not a great beer drinkers market) I set up shop very early, wanting to get the spot I'd picked out, and not wanting to try and setup during the busy period.
So, how did it go? Well, I didn't sell a single bottle to people I didn't already know :) And the police came and told me to pack it up and go home. "Cops, come and try and snatch my crops" I was probably trying to charge too much, (I know I was) but I was trying to ensure that the cops would understand I was selling art, not alcohol. I didn't want to be selling alcohol on prices that would compete with the state run bottle shop down the street. They'd actually walked past me a couple of times earlier in the day, but probably hadn't noticed me.
Or, more likely, they saw the note I added later in the day, to try and improve sales, and let people know that they weren't just painted bottles, the note that said, "Handmade Ale" in two languages. (For anyone looking at the pictures who knows Icelandic, yes, I do know it had a typo, it was fixed just after the picture was taken.)
So, after missing most of the day, I headed out to try and see a bit of other people's art. 12 Tónar was 50% off everything all day, so I bought the new Mínus album, and enjoyed some absolutely delicious waffles with coffee and home made jam at the house of Fannar and his wife, an old colleague who lives on Þingholt.
So, I had a lot of fun doing it, I'm glad I did it, but I won't do it again next year. (Though next year, I may be doing it legally) Thanks go to Lee, Wolfgang, Logi and Robbi for being fantastic customers.