Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Making of a "Charticle"

Have you ever heard of a “charticle?” In the magazine biz, it’s a term we use for an infographic. Essentially it’s a hybrid of a “chart” and “article.” In the November 2014 issue of Viking magazine, we had the opportunity to execute a full-page charticle on Nordic stars as part of our “Cinema Scandinavia” feature. Check it out on page 20.

Charticles can be powerful attention grabbers that communicate information in a visually appealing way. Plus, they are very fun, yet sometimes challenging, to execute! Our “Cinema Scandinavia” feature highlights the crossover between the American and Scandinavian film industries. While researching for the story, I found myself writing down names of Norwegian actors and directors and linking them to actors in Hollywood that they are working with. And the idea for a charticle was born!

To properly executive a charticle, it takes lots of collaboration between an editor and art director. And thankfully, I have a terrific partner in Viking’s art director, Amy Armato. This particular charticle was months in the making. From my first hand-drawn version (see picture below) created in late June to the final days of sending the November issue to the printer in late September, it was a fun and challenging task—lots of drawing, erasing, collaborating, editing, fact checking, designing, more erasing, more designing and more proofreading. Whew!

Here’s a peek at how our “Nordic Stars” charticle from Viking’s November issue was created.

The hand-drawn version: June 20
An initial layout starting to take shape: September 5

Refining, editing, proofreading: September 16

The finished charticle! September 24

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More With Eugenie Skilnand

In the November 2014 issue of Viking, we feature ballet dancer Eugenie Skilnand. She has been a member of the Norwegian National Ballet since 2000. Here’s more from the interview.

Q: How did you get involved with ballet? 
A: My father’s work moved my family to a very isolated place in Finland when I was around 3 years old, and my mother put me in a ballet class to get me to meet other kids my age. I was so shy, I would refuse to come out from underneath the piano the whole class, but at home I would show my mother everything the other kids did.  Since then I just always had to dance!

Q: What has been your greatest achievement as a dancer? 
A: The call from my first director offering me a contract as an apprentice with the Norwegian National Ballet was a big moment. It was the start of my life as a professional dancer. Other highlights include the first time I saw my name on the cast list in a solo part as Clara in “The Nutcracker,” my first title role as Cinderella and my return to stage after giving birth to my daughter.

Q: What are your future career goals? 
A: I have about six more years dancing with the company before I retire. The shame about being a dancer is that the older I get, the better my self-esteem gets, which makes me a better dancer. However, the extreme physicality a dancer needs, decreases with age. But I continue to work hard, and so far I still feel that my body is strong enough to handle it. I hope for some more soulful moments on stage!

Q: What are some of your hobbies? 
A: I love to relax at home with my husband and baby. Of course now with my 15- month-old daughter, there is less relaxing that I would like at times, but she also gives me a lot of extra energy! The weekends when I am not performing is sacred family time.

Photo: Erik Berg

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Norway: The World's Most Livable Country

Per Eide/
The Human Development Index by the United Nations Development Programme ranked Norway as the world’s most livable country. The data is based on three dimensions of human progress—having a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a good standard of living. A country’s income is a large factor in the ranking, and Norway has the world’s sixth highest gross national income per capita.

Here’s a look at the top 10 rankings:
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. The Netherlands
5. The United States
6. Germany
7. New Zealand
8. Canada
9. Singapore
10. Denmark

For more information, check out this article. 

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping! In the November 2014 issue of Viking, we rounded up 25 Nordic-inspired gifts for the entire family. Here are a few more of our favorites.

Gather around the table and play Hnefatafl (nef-ah-tah-fel)—a chess-like game that is referred to in old Norse manuscripts.

Norwegian brand SWIMS offers shoes and outerwear for both men and women to keep you dry and fashionable. For the sporty guy on your list, we love the Luca Sneaker. 

Do you love hit television show “Vikings?” Watch for season 3 to premier on The History Channel in 2015. If you've never seen it, catch up with DVDs from season 1 and 2.

The Norwegian National Doll Costume is handmade by Debbie’s Doll Dresses and fits 18’’ or American Girl dolls.

The Pengus Beanie from Scandinavian children’s wear company Mini Rodini keeps little ones cute and cozy.  The brand is a favorite of celebrity kids.

The Iittala Lempi Glasses made from blow glass come in a 2 pack with color choices of blue, grey or purple.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Modern Manager

In the November 2014 issue of Viking, we highlight savvy Norwegian businesswoman Anita Krohn Traaseth. In September, she started a new role as director for Innovation Norway. The busy business leader, author, blogger, wife and mother of three believes in a contemporary management style. Check it out on page 54, and read more from the interview below.

Q: How did your upbringing prepare you for leadership as an adult? 
A: I was given freedom and trust in my childhood. My parents were more concerned about developing character at an early age and being robust than striving for excellent grades. I was allowed to determine my own interests and was given responsibility at the age of 12 when I earned my first income picking strawberries and working for a local radio station. I was not introduced to the world of intellectuals, nor did I have expectations of how to define success. I have a working class background from the 1970s, where freedom and responsibility were key.

Q: It’s clear that you have a strong sense of style. What importance does self-presentation hold as you prepare for work each day? 
A: Well, for almost 15 years I dressed in a classic, dark corporate outfit with glasses and a ponytail. I was never very interested in defining my own style; I went with practical and standard. I had been trained not to create attention to anything but content (it was strange enough being an outspoken woman in a male-dominated environment). After I turned 40, I decided it was time to explore a more personal style by using colors and letting my hair down (which is blond and long, and that in itself can be a hindrance to being taken seriously in a very conservative business environment). Now, I don’t care too much. I know my track record, and I understand that you will never get everyone to like you. I like to dress classically, comfortably and feminine. I have started to try out new fashion and design—especially from Norwegian designers.

Q: What destination in Norway would you recommend to visitors? 
A: I would recommend all of Norway—from north to south and east to west! We can offer everything from sandy beaches in picturesque surroundings to year-round activities and sports in the mountains and fjords. We’re known for spectacular nature, but our biggest cities can also offer high quality entertainment, design, food and shopping. Small villages throughout our country boast unique, historical attractions and specialties. It all depends on what you, as a tourist, want to see, as we still have a variety of undiscovered destinations and experiences to offer.

Check out Anita Krohn Trasseth’s blog and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Harry Hole's Oslo

Jo Nesbø ©Niklas R. Lello
Looking for a new way to explore Oslo? Fans of Norway’s best-selling crime writer Jo Nesbø can take a guided tour of the city and follow in the footsteps of the author’s main protagonist Harry Hole. Tour guides will lead you through the streets of Oslo to places that Hole frequents.

The tour starts at the Best Western Karl Johan Hotell near Stortinget and continues on to locations such as Egertorget Square, Oslo Courthouse, St. Olavs Church, several restaurants and pubs and Royal Palace Park. Tours are available in both Norwegian and English.

For more on Jo Nesbø, check out our interview with him in the March 2013 issue of Viking and keep updated on his upcoming releases on his official website. 
Check out this video where the author talks about his protagonist Harry Hole.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Norway's Historic Hotels

Looking for a great hotel in Norway? Have a charming stay at one of the country’s wonderful historic hotels. With a storied past, many have been owned by the same family for generations and have attracted famous guests throughout the years. In the October 2014 issue of Viking, we feature five historic hotels. Read on for more hotel ideas, compiled by Viking writer Kara Eliason.

Anker Brygge 
Location: Northern Norway
Stay here to enjoy the Lofoten Islands, local fishing villages, the midnight sun and the northern lights.

Dalen Hotel 
Location: Southern Norway
If you’re looking for a bit of whimsy during your stay, this “fairytale hotel” features dragon heads, turrets and spires, and balconies.

Røisheim Hotell 
Location: Eastern Norway
This is a great destination for travelers who want to explore Jotunheimen, Norway's most popular national park. It’s a favorite hotel among mountain tourists.

Kronen Gaard Hotell 
Location: Western Norway
Built in 1898, the hotel’s Swiss chalet-style main house was a summer home for timber dealer Gabriel Block Watne. The hotel is known for its locally sourced food and scenic gardens.

Vertshuset Røros 
Location: Central Norway
This hotel is a great place to stay while visiting the Røros World Heritage site. The hotel kitchen uses quality, local ingredients when preparing meals for guests.

Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri 
Location: Fjord Norway
Located on an island in the Austevoll municipality, Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri has accommodated visitors for more than 300 years.

Location: Oslo
This hotel is located near the top of Holmenkollen, Norway's most visited tourist attraction and one of the world's most famous sporting arenas. It also features great cuisine and a well-stocked wine cellar.

Augustin Hotel 
Location: Bergen
It’s Bergen’s oldest family run hotel, and it features an impressive collection of contemporary Norwegian art.

Britannia Hotel 
Location: Trondheim
This is a great hotel for visitors who want to shop and sightsee. Opened in 1897, Britannia Hotel is called the “white swan” or the “pearl” of Trondheim.

Looking for more recommendations? De Historiske is a membership organization that includes 50 of Norway’s most charming hotels, plus 19 restaurants and two ships.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Congressman Erik Paulsen Visits Sons of Norway

Sons of Norway welcomed Congressman Erik Paulsen from Minnesota’s Third Congressional District to its headquarters in Minneapolis Tuesday, October 14. Intended to familiarize Representative Paulsen with the Sons of Norway’s story dating back nearly 120 years, the meeting focused on the ways in which the organization and its approximately 60,000 members across the US, Canada and Norway are making a difference in their communities.

Sons of Norway’s  CEO Eivind Heiberg, Fraternal Director Linda Pederson and Cultural Coordinator Anna Stoltenberg sat down with the Congressman in the Sons of Norway Board Room. As the Congressman admired the pictures of the 33 past Sons of Norway International Presidents, Heiberg outlined how the Fraternal Life Insurance Company provides financial protection, Norwegian cultural awareness, and charitable support through its Foundation.

Sons of Norway is a 501 (c)(8) tax exemption status, granted to fraternal benefit societies in the 20th century, which means that proceeds from the sale of financial products are used to support the organization’s fraternal and Foundation endeavors. With this in mind, Sons of Norway shared with the Congressman how the tax exempt status allows Sons of Norway to enhance the lives of its members and make a difference in their communities.  

Started by 18 Norwegian immigrants who wanted to protect one another in times of great hardship, Sons of Norway’s membership grew and so did the effort to uphold the Norwegian traditions in America. Today Sons of Norway is a thriving philanthropic organization supported by nearly 17,000 insurance certificates currently in force. The creation of the Sons of Norway Foundation (501(c)(3)) in 1966 meant that scholarships for educational exchange, grants for community cultural programming and humanitarian aid in times of great need could be offered in addition to the financial security and fraternalism already being provided to members.

Pederson emphasized the value of fraternal benefit societies by citing a recent study done by Phillip Swagel, a professor at the University of Maryland, which states that for every $1 the federal government invests, fraternal benefit societies produce $76 in value back to society. In 2013 alone, Sons of Norway members organized nearly 20,000 civic events, volunteered almost 400,000 hours and donated over $1,000,000 to their communities. Congressman Paulsen was captivated by stories of lodge events and fundraisers put on by members including a fundraising gala hosted by Vennekretsen Lodge in Anoka, MN, that raised over $65,000 for Hope 4 Youth, a local nonprofit that provides services for homeless youth.

Congressman Paulsen also spoke highly of the Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast, founded by Sons of Norway in 1985, which he has previously attended. Bringing together people of Nordic heritage to offer thanks for the privileges of freedom, faith, family and friends, the event gives guests an opportunity to give back to the community by supporting two local non-profits -  the Second Harvest Heartland and Minnesota Military Family Foundation.

Sons of Norway is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of its members, the communities it serves and the world in which we live. Congressman Paulsen posed with Heiberg and even agreed to take a selfie with Stoltenberg in order to post to NorwayConnects, Sons of Norway’s new website geared at bridging the gap between Norway and North America by connecting young adults with college, career, financial and cultural resources.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Photographer Captures Norway’s Beauty in Stunning Video

Norway is known for its diverse and dramatic landscape. Home to natural wonders like the fjords, midnight sun and the northern lights and boasting one of the longest and most rugged coastlines in the world, the natural beauty of Norway is nothing short of spectacular.

Inspired by the drama of his home country’s varied landscape, photographer Morten Rustad set out on a five month journey to chronicle all 19 of Norway’s counties, capturing “everything from the deep fjords in the Southwest, to the moon landscape in the North, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and settlements and cities around the country, both in summer and wintertime.” The result of his 10,000-mile trek is a remarkable time-lapse video comprised of tens of thousands of images that showcase Norway in a truly vibrant display. 

Released in late September by Rustad Media, the video already has over 869,000 views on Vimeo and over 410,000 on YouTube.

Interested in seeing more of Rustad Media’s work? Visit to see some of their other time-lapse videos. You can also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the journey and its filming locations by checking out the news section of

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sondre Lerche on Tour

Photo: Eric Ray Davidson
Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche is making his way through the United States this fall with songs from his new album, “Please.” After finishing the American leg of the tour, Lerche will head to Europe at the end of October, stopping in Bergen on Nov. 8 and Oslo on Nov. 15, before landing in Asia. Here’s where he’ll be singing this month in the United States:

Oct. 8 Troubadour (with TEEN), Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 9 The Independent (with TEEN), San Francisco, CA
Oct. 11 Doug Fir (with TEEN), Portland, OR
Oct. 12 Nectar Lounge (with TEEN), Seattle, WA
Oct. 15 Bluebird Theatre (with TEEN), Denver, CO
Oct. 16 Vega (with TEEN), Lincoln, NE
Oct. 17 Turf Club (with TEEN), St. Paul, MN
Oct. 18 Lincoln Hall (with TEEN), Chicago, IL
Oct. 19 Magic Stick (with TEEN), Detroit, MI
Oct. 20 Altar Bar (with TEEN), Pittsburgh, PA

Check out some of Lerche's videos online, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sons of Norway and Telemark County Announce Signing of Memorandum of Understanding

Sons of Norway (SON), a Minneapolis-based Fraternal Life Insurance company and the Telemark County Council (Telemark) announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will result in closer collaboration for the strengthening of ties between North America and Norway.

The Memorandum, signed by Telemark Mayor, Terje Riis Johansen and SON CEO, Eivind Heiberg, outlines the areas of focus for ongoing cooperation, collaboration and alignment between the two groups. Specifically, SON and the Telemark agree to strive for complementarity and compatibility in the ongoing development of business opportunities, tourism, and cultural and educational exchange.

Commenting on the MoU, Sons of Norway CEO, Eivind Heiberg stated, “This is a first step towards what I believe will be a long and mutually beneficial relationship. By working closely with Telemark, and its executive board, this partnership will not only strengthen our respective organizations, but it will also reinforce the long-standing bond that exists between Norway and North America, with the result being increased opportunities for professionals, students and individuals to experience the culture of our respective nations

 “Sons of Norway is one of the most important organizations who connects the heritage of the United States and Norway. They can make a big difference in what we are working to achieve. ” says Johansen.

Looking forward SON and Telemark will continue to meet and discuss strategies for achieving the objectives outlined in the MoU and work together to plan the next steps in the evolution of this new partnership.

Actor Tobias Santelmann

In the October 2014 issue of Viking, we had the pleasure of including Norwegian actor Tobias Santelmann. He hails from Lindesnes, Norway, and graduated from The Oslo National Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2006. You may recognize him from the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated hit Norwegian film “Kon-Tiki.” Like many Scandinavian actors, he’s making his way into Hollywood circles. This summer, he appeared on American big screens alongside Dwayne Johnson and fellow Norwegian actors Aksel Hennie and Ingrid Bolsø Berdal in “Hercules.” Santelmann is currently filming the movie “Point Break,” set to release next summer, and is a remake from the 1991 version with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. Learn more about Santelmann on page 9 of Viking’s October issue. Here are a few more comments from Santelmann that didn’t make it into the article:

“To act in another language is emancipatory. It helps me in many ways when I am playing a character who is far from me personally.”

“The word ‘career’ is a tricky word for me. I feel and am fortunate to be working. I love my job as an actor.”

Follow Santelmann on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more on Santelmann and other leading actors in Norway, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming November issue of Viking!

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Andrew Zimmern in Viking

Travel Channel star and James Beard Award winner Andrew Zimmern graces the October 2014 cover of Viking magazine, and we couldn’t be more excited! In addition to hosting his hit television shows, including “Bizarre Foods,” Zimmern is a chef and food writer. Born in New York, Zimmern lives in Minnesota with his wife and son. In the article, he talks about Nordic food, life and values. Here are a few more comments from Zimmern that didn’t make it into the article:

“Here’s what I adore about Nordic and Scandinavian culture: They embrace everything that’s around them. They accept what they have. And we do that here [in Minnesota] to a large extent; people who move away from here are people who don’t figure out how to deal with winter. I like to ski and snowboard, but it’s not like I go out every day with the cross-country skis. But we love our outdoor activities, including sledding, ice fishing and ice-skating. I hunt in the winter, and we snowmobile. We’ve turned wintertime into a really cool exploration that we’re not afraid of. We’ve got our son Noah going to different state parks every weekend in the winter, and we’re talking about tromping in the woods through four-foot snowdrifts. We have so much fun doing that, coming home all wet and cold, having hot chocolate to warm up and then snuggling and watching a movie. In Scandinavia, the acceptance that you work with the cards that you’ve been dealt is a big part of their cultural way of viewing life. Spending time in Iceland in small little towns where nine months of the year you can’t even go outside: bleak, wind-swept sorts of places where they’re eating dried fish, always having a piece of harfiskar in their pocket so they can put dried fish in their mouth and eating the same four food items all winter long. I mean, it makes you hard in the best sense of the word.”

In July, the Viking team had an exclusive photo shoot with Zimmern at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, which serves up Nordic-inspired cuisine. We had three hours of Zimmern’s time on set, so things had to move pretty quickly. Here’s a look at how the day went and a few behind-the-scenes shots.

What: Andrew Zimmern photo shoot for the October 2014 issue of Viking magazine
Where: The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis
When: July 11, 2014
9-10 a.m., photographer Steve Henke and his team set up the shots
10 a.m., Zimmern arrives on set
10-10:30 a.m., wardrobe and makeup
10:30-11 a.m., shot one, (the cover photo)
11-11:15 a.m., set up for shot 2
11:15-11:40 a.m., shot 2  (seen on page 16)
11:40 a.m., food delivered by The Bachelor Farmer’s Executive Chef Paul Berglund  
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m., shot 3 in the Afghan Room (seen on page 14-15)
12:15-12:45 p.m., shot 4 (seen on page 3)
1 p.m., photo shoot wraps

Zimmern and photographer Steve Henke

Zimmern brought a whole bag of pocket squares to the set!

Planning the cover shot on set.

Half-way through the shoot.

The Bachelor Farmer Executive Chef Paul Berglund puts the finishing touches on the dishes.

The amazing Afghan Room at The Bachelor Farmer.

If you’re in the Minnesota area, see Andrew Zimmern speak at the Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast in Bloomington, Minn., on Nov. 25. For details, go to

Keep up with all of Zimmern’s globe-trotting adventures on his website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Knitting Conference in Seattle

Attention knitters! The Nordic Heritage Museum’s Knitting Conference is just around the corner, taking place from Oct. 3-5, 2014. If you’ve wanted to brush up on your knitting skills, it’s time to register! The conference features internationally known knitters, textile artists and will be headlined by popular Norwegian knitwear design stars Arne & Carlos. 

You probably have seen Arne & Carlos’ book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. Their newest book, Knitted Dolls is filled with fun, whimsical knitted designs.

Learn a little more about Arne and Carlos in this video:

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nordic Food Festivals

This month, two Nordic Food Festivals are taking place on the East Coast. The NORTH Nordic Food Festival is one of the world’s largest Nordic food festivals outside of Scandinavia. It takes place in New York City from Sept. 13-20, 2014. Nordic chefs, such as Morten Sohlberg, Marcus Jernmark, Frida Ronge and Sasu Laukkonen, will host dinners and teach cooking classes.

The Smörgåsbord Nordic Food Festival happens on Sept. 20, 2014, and is put on by the Scandinavian Cultural Center in Newton, Mass. Local chefs, including Peter Hansen, Mark Hardin and Tim Fahy, will host tasting sessions. Chef and cookbook author Sami Tallberg will discuss his books on foraging and the use of wild herbs. Love salmon? The Norwegian Seafood Council will present a Norwegian salmon cooking duel.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.