ANTI’s Veronica Mike Solheim: Norway to take back lost time and show the world that we’re here to stay

Suddenly old traditions like furniture design, book printing, and a lot of beautiful old techniques were overlooked or forgotten.

“To be an underdog is always a good thing — you have nothing to lose, you are the exotic challenger.”

Oslo-based Art Director Veronica Mike Solheim, editor in chief and creative director of A New Type of Imprint magazine, and recipient of two blog awards — Best Inspirational Blogger in 2011 and Blogger of the Year in 2013 — talks about the energy swirling in and around the creative sphere of Norway.

“This outsider feeling has been something to gather around, and I’m sure that the good design we now see in this country is a result of hungry creatives coming together with the same mission: To take back lost time and show the world that we’re here to stay.”

It was this mission that kickstarted Mike’s career. She describes how her work with creative studio ANTI started on a high note:

“As a 22-year-old intern floating between graphic design and advertising, I had the idea for A New Type of Imprint, a culture and design magazine on Norwegian creatives. I was very ambitious and naive, and after a month in, I put on the sharpest clothes I owned and pitched the idea to Kenneth Pedersen, CEO and co-founder of ANTI, who at the time barely knew my name. He loved the idea and believed in my guts, and gave me a full-time position to build the magazine. It was a true 8 Mile-moment.”

Close-up of volume 9 of A New Type of Imprint focusing on Finnish design

Sharpening the Focus on Norwegian Designers

Mike’s desire to make Imprint was triggered by discussions of how little she and her friends knew about Norwegian design—both its history and the talents of today.

“The problem was the coverage, not the lack of good design or creatives. And I’m afraid the oil could take some of the blame for it, as our government started investing all its energy and money on developing this industry in the 1960s. Suddenly old traditions like furniture design, book printing, and a lot of beautiful old techniques were overlooked or forgotten. When the rest of the Nordic countries spent money, time, and energy on maintaining and exporting their design, Norwegian’s were left to handle their industry on their own. Which is why designers like Arne Jacobsen (Denmark) and Alvar Aalto (Finland) are way more famous than the legendary Fredrik Kayser or other Norwegian furniture designers.”

Designing Communication Strategies

Three years after its launch, A New Type of Imprint has grown to become “the world’s eye on Norwegian design.” The magazine has received several international nominations and awards, and last year Mike was nominated as top 10 in the category “Editor of the Year” by Stack Awards.

Mike notes that storytelling is the cornerstone of her practice and played a major role in the magazine’s impressive growth.

“There is no doubt that the brand A New Type of Imprint is bigger than the actual publication. We spend a lot of time and energy on developing and challenging the brand. To be frank, I would say we use 20% of our time on making the magazine, 20% working with other clients for ANTI and 60% on branding. The most important question to answer is ‘What’s the story?’ Everything else should float from there.”

One of the top 10 magazines to follow on Instagram

Mike says it’s important to determine what social media that would best fit your story, not least where you reach your target group. You have to find your key places, she says.

“I don’t think it’s important to be everywhere, but be strong where you are.”

This strategy has paid off for Imprint — both as a magazine and as a brand. Two years ago, Stack listed Imprint as one of the top 10 magazines to follow on Instagram.

“Instagram is our key social media, but it’s important to match the story to the channel, and take advantage of each channel’s unique benefits. For us, Instagram is all about visuals and inspiration. Nothing goes into that feed without looking extremely good. Facebook is more for sharing articles, maybe a funny GIF (don’t blame the bad humour), or news. Behance is also an important place for us, where we reach out to designers, which is definitely an important reading group for us.”

In addition to a circulation of four printed magazine’s per year, a web magazine and several social media channels, Mike and her team creates similar solutions for ANTI’s clients.

“The tools we use are naturally very important, as we’re bouncing between InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro — working with everything from layout design to video production. Efficiency and flow is key, and it’s safe to say that our job is dependent on the Adobe Creative Cloud tools.”

A New Type of Imprint magazine on Instagram

Internationally spreading the message of Norwegian Design

The future is bright and clear for ANTI and Imprint. Mike discusses what we can expect in the future:

“Last year ANTI merged with the legendary Non-Format, an agency with huge influence in print and design. I’ve definitely fooled around with the thought of redesigning the magazine or even make a book format with that team. Nothing is set in stone, but there will be changes in near future. I’m driven by ambitions and get easily bored, so I’m really thankful to be a part of this forward-thinking studio. ANTI is a place for people that like to have fun while challenging formats, clients, the industry, not least themselves — and right now we’re at a place where we can do whatever we want. To answer the question: I have no clue where we’re at in a year. Even though it’s fun to be the underdog, there’s no doubt that we want to take on the world.”

Veronica Mike Solheim

Mike’s personal site