Cover Story


Cover Story

Iceland Review celebrates its 50th anniversary later this year. Fifty years is a long time in publishing in our country. The first issue of this originally quarterly magazine, founded and edited by Haraldur J. Hamar, and co-founded by his former school mate Heimir Hannesson, appeared in September 1963.

Published in the 2013 January-March issue of Iceland Review – IR 01.13. By Haraldur J. Hamar. Translated by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Introduction by Páll Stefánsson.

cover_storyThe cover of the first issue of Iceland Review, August-September 1963, designed by Gísli B. Björnsson.

Haraldur J. Hamar was at the helm of Iceland Review for 38 years, until the end of the last century, and I was fortunate to work with him for 18 of those years. Still today, I call him to ask for advice and tell him our plans. I started working at the magazine just over 30 years ago and learned more from Haraldur in the first three weeks on the job, in the summer of 1982, than in the three years prior, studying photography in Sweden.

More than anything, Haraldur wanted to publish a magazine of an international standard, to be leading in design and photography, a standard we’ve tried to maintain to this day. He has a good eye for images and design. The magazine had to be in English, its content informative and interesting, and the design modern and bold, with big images of Icelandic culture and landscapes. Haraldur wrote a new chapter in the history of Icelandic publishing and photojournalism.

The Beginning

By Haraldur J. Hamar A much abbreviated version of Haraldur’s account of the history of Iceland Review in the catalogue to Five Decades of Graphic Design, a retrospective exhibition of the work of Gísli B. Björnsson.

Shortly after graduating from junior college in 1955, I was unexpectedly offered a job as a journalist at Morgunblaðið [Iceland’s leading newspaper]. Raised in the atmosphere of rural culture in Ísafjörður in the West Fjords, I had rather expected to become a servant of the church. But I became very interested in journalism and have never regretted that career choice.

The first years at Morgunblaðið I worked mostly on the foreign news desk and gradually established contacts abroad. I became aware of how difficult it was for them to obtain information about Iceland and the developments in our society. Hardly any material about Iceland was available in foreign languages. This sparked the idea for a publication to provide the outside world with access to regular information about our country and nation. Even though I had no available funding to execute the project, the idea didn’t leave me. Slowly but surely I started laying out my strategy.

Five times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánsson's latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe and here to browse through a selection of pages from the current issue.