Ok, this is the part all journalists who have interviewed me, use to get a little wrong, at least. Some detail or other – which is quite understandable, since my story, background and all, is rather complicated. But let’s get started with the beginning.
I was born almost as far north on the European mainland as you can go, in the Arctic region of Norway, in Finnmark county, by the banks of the river Tana. Now, there’s a river with the same name down in Kenya and I use to say that the stork made a mistake when it was supposed to drop me down on Earth, that Sunday in March, 1953. The fifteenth to be exact. It probably had a hangover or something and just wanted to get the job done, so any river Tana is as good as the other, I suppose, it muttered to itself and let me drop.
This happened eight years after WW2 and almost the entire population of the area had been evacuated by the nazi occupants, while all buildings were burnt down. Even that long after the war, I still spent my first months in a turf cottage, a kind of a mud hut if you will.
It will take too long to tell about it all, so suffice it to say that we moved after that, and I have been on the move then, more or less. I think that the longest period I have stayed on one and the same address, is five years. That was between I was twelve till I was seventeen.
To summarise, I have been living south and north and west and east in Norway. I have stayed for several months on a beach in Greece and almost half a year in Barcelona. I shook the Norwegian dust from the sole of my shoes in 1990 and moved to Sweden, where I had lived in periods before, making it four years altogether. Then Finland next, the origin of many of my forefathers and mothers.
Oh yes, I probably have no Viking heritage at all, but am a mix of Finnish, Sami, Carelian and Romani – or gypsy if you will.
I became a Finnish citizen even, partly out of gratitude to the country which gave me my present career, as an illustrator and an editorial cartoonist, working for Hufvudstadsbladet for the most, the largest daily in Finland in the Swedish language – because to add to the confusion, I never learnt Finnish aside from a few words and sentences. Instead I became a part of the Swedish-speaking minority there – and yes, Finland is a bilingual country, Swedish being the other official language.
Then, after eight years there, I moved to Portugal, realising an old dream of mine, to live in more southern latitudes. Getting closer to that other Tana…
I found my home in Viseu in the northern part of the country, high up in the mountains and miles away from the nearest beach. I picked up the language, too, and I continued to work for Hufvudstadsbladet, using the internet. That is a story by itself, but we must hurry on.
Funnily enough, I ended up having much to do with Brazil and I have spent more or less a year there, altogether. Just to make it more complicated. I think we better leave my private life out of it. It’s complicated, as they say.
And to skip across details, I live on the Åland Islands now, in the middle of the Baltic Ocean, in the tiny capital city of this autonomous region of Finland, where Swedish is the only official language.
Oh and art and stuff, you may wonder? Well, I am an autodidact, self taught, for the most part, in spite of the fact that I attended two art schools, not finishing the second. That was mostly to get a place to live and not having to working with shit, earning peanuts and barely that. Which I did a lot until I moved to Finland. When I did that, I had decided it was something artish or bust. And luck struck. Finally.
I have always been drawing really. The difference between me and many others, is that I never stopped. Never dreamt of becoming an artist, though. I never knew what I wanted to become when I grew up. Still don’t know, really. I just do what I do and am glad that I can make a living out of it.
So that’s it. More or less. It is much more, of course.