Graphic designer Arnar Fells Gunnarsson is a 2013 graduate of the Iceland Academy of the Arts. His final project is Galdraskræða Skugga, a new version of an old book of Icelandic spells.

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Written by Jochum M. Eggertson who is better known under his pen name “Skuggi”, meaning “shadow”, the book was first published in 1940, illustrated and handwritten by the author himself. A collection of nearly 200 spells and an ensemble of magic rune letters, Galdraskræða Skugga was published in 150 copies only, and disappeared for 40 years until Bókvarðan published it without a formal publishing permit in the year 1982.

That edition was very soon taken off the market. Galdraskræða Skugga is now published with permission for the first time since the first edition.

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Gunnarsson aimed at respecting the original work in the reproduction of the book. The graphic design was simplified and the representation was made more clear. The imagery is expressed in red color, which is symbolic of the ancient ritual of using blood in the making of letters while casting a spell. The use of blood was necessary to carry the individual’s intent of the spell, as well as enhancing the outcome of the spell.

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According to the designer,


The history of magic spells in Iceland is very old and highly influences the native population. Sources of spells go back to the middle ages in old Norse sagas.

In ancient times, the magic spells were as vital to Icelanders as food is to the body. They existed in every aspect of life and came as second nature to man, through his desires and fears. An individual’s longing to understand and control his destiny, as well as the power of nature, is reflected in the spells.

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The project was exhibited at Reykjavik Art Museum in the LHÍ Student Show 2013.

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The book is set to be published soon by Lesstofan.


Images Courtesy of the designer



This is our second edition of our yearly round-up of final projects by brand new designers graduating from the Iceland Academy of the Arts.