My name is Jakob Veigar Sigurðsson. I´m an artist from Iceland.
As a boy, I always dreamt of becoming a rock star. That dream never made it into reality, and fulfilling the expectations of society somehow became my only goal: a house, a wife, a car - everything looked perfect but felt shit inside. I pursued a carreer as a civil engineer in Iceland and Norway. I never found real satisfaction or peace.
Before I went full force into art, I ended up in a very dark place. I got divorced. I was fighting obesity and alcoholism. Basically, everything in my life was fucked. Then the global financial crisis hit Iceland, and I went bankrupt.
Losing everything was strangely liberating. I had to rethink my life, and start again from scratch. It was hard. I was in a dead end and I almost gave up. I had to find the strength to change, to walk into my fears, to make peace with my past. To find myself and my dreams again.
A schoolbook Icelandic revelation
I’m really not a fan of clichés, but I did have a revelation. Imagine the beautiful East Fjords of Iceland. A metal festival. Three days of blackout drinking. I woke up in a tent, somehow looked at myself and realized that if I wanted to live, I would never drink again.
After the alcohol was out of the picture, I had no place left to hide - from myself, and from my life. I had to go back to my old forgotten dreams, or die. I started to make music after more than a decade of absence, and that gave me an inner spark I hadn’t felt for years.
Two Failures and a Southern Migration
I applied at the Icelandic Academy of Fine Art as a composer, but didn’t get in. I started to paint to keep me sane in the darkness that unfolds north of the arctic circle. It didn’t take long before I was obsessed with painting, and realized that this was the journey I wanted to embark on.
I applied again, and was denied. The rejection felt terrible, but the sense of failure was going to significantly define my path. I looked for alternatives, and consulted the voice that had guided me through most of my challenges: my grandfather, who had passed away by that time. After a long discussion, my decision was made: I would migrate south, like the birds.
I washed up at the Cyprus College of Art, where I was finally allowed to explore myself as a painter, on my own terms. I returned home to Iceland, and after being waitlisted for months, finally got into the (fucking) Icelandic Academy of the Arts, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art in 2016.
My studies included an exchange, which brought me to Vienna for reasons I am yet to understand. I met Professor Kirsi Mikkola, who had a dramatic impact on my painting: she constantly pushed me and my paintings into a quest to find my own personal way of
painting, and to work my way into something contemporary. I returned to Iceland and graduated with a slightly more defined idea of who I was, and who I wanted to become. Mikkola had invited me to return to Vienna to continue my studies, but I still had my doubts.
On a drive through the ever-changing landscape of my home, flanked by Kría against a steely sky, a rural Icelandic radio station and Billy Joel helped me get on my way:
“But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want or you get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even
Get halfway through
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you”
I graduated as (Herr) Magister from the Vienna Academy of Fine Art in 2019