We recently featured Nina Olsson’s blog and design business Nourish Atelier in our round up of incredible Shakshuka recipes. Nina is from Stockholm but now lives in Amsterdam with her husband and two children. Nourish Atelier provides content, art direction, PR, design and photography for clients in the food industry and publishing. We love Nina’s work and how she shares her inspirations and real stories with health conscious foodies around the world so we caught up with her to find out what makes her tick…
A lot of my life revolves around food. Working with food inspiration feeds new ideas and there’s constant projects in my kitchen. I like mindful slow food and healthy eating. I’m a vegetarian and curious about food from different cultures. But I also believe in balance and having a donut once in a while. I want to learn how to cook food from different cultures.
I started working as a designer and art director for fashion magazines after graduation, also running a small magazine about art, design and pop culture for three years. After a few years, I had the chance to work with food magazines and it felt like coming home. Alongside my specialization as an art director for food photography, I’m a “real” graphic designer, doing all the usual duties as setting typographic styles and designing magazines, brand identities, making ads and websites also for non food clients, I illustrate, style and photograph. So in other words I do all sorts of things at the same time!
How did you get to the point of running a creative design studio?
Besides my education and experience, I had a point in my life where I was living and working as an art director in Stockholm, while Mr right was waiting for me in Amsterdam. I took the plunge and moved to the Netherlands, the best decision of my life.
Everything fell into place and starting my own studio became a natural step in my new life after moving. I kept my Swedish clients and working for myself meant also being free to create independent work. How I came to choose this work is probably because I was very good at day dreaming when I was younger, being creative and working with inspiration is making something productive of all that time spent dreaming up ideas.
What’s a typical day?
I start my day around 7.15 with a nice cup of coffee! Then I make a good breakfast for my daughter before she goes to school. My studio is in our house and I spend the next few hours working for clients. This usually revolves around discussing ideas, planning photography and food styling, or working on designs. If I’m in Sweden I’m at work on sets for photography. If it’s a day with a client meeting, I head into Amsterdam, If not, I usually take a break and head out to the stables for a ride or roll out my yoga mat.
The second part of the day is where I work on my own projects if there’s time. Once or twice a week I develop a recipe that I style and photograph for the blog. I snap quite some of my lunches and dinners for Instagram too. Around 18.00 I’m making dinner. I often feel that time is flying and the children are growing up in a flash, so I cherish dinner time as the most valuable time of the day, when we are all together without distractions. The evenings are for unwinding and I usually read and look up inspiration in books or online when the kids are asleep. Around 23.30, I force myself to go to bed, if I get into reading or exploring inspiration I have a hard time stopping. I usually have a warm cup of tea before bedtime. It’s a nice way to round of the day.
What’s the best bit of your job?
In the bigger picture I like sharing inspiration through magazine work and blogging. I know how it feels to be inspired by an image, it gives me the creative lust to make room for that feeling in my life. And by creating inspiration for others, I feel a sense of giving. Isn’t it amazing that we humans can think in terms of inspiration? I don’t think other animals are so aspirational as humans are. In a more detailed sense, I really love being hands on with photography, styling and typography.
What inspires you?
Possibilities. A raw blank canvas, beautiful quality materials. Linen, wood, stoneware, artisanal craftsmanship, pure and fresh ingredients, good food, people and histories, travel and culture, artists and visionaries. I’m almost always inspired.
What’s been your favourite project?
I like the projects where I’ve been involved from the start with design and ideas and where I can follow through to the end and see the results, which is often the case with magazine work. A special photo shoot I will remember from this year was an editorial with a party theme. The sets were ambitiously styled with pompoms, big cakes and models, we shot on two sets simultaneously for three days. That is quite a buzz for a food magazine, which is normally a much smaller setting. That was so much fun.
Can you share one secret of food photography?
My best advice is to avoid perfection, it’s just scary, let a crumble fall, a napkin lie carelessly, take a bite, or spill something, just a little bit, to give life to your image. There’s so much “good imagery” looking a bit the same, trying to hard out there, a relaxed styling will feel confident and interesting.