Bobo Choses Series
Elo & Óttar
Elo Vázquez and Óttar Martin moved to Barcelona many years ago, from southern Spain and Iceland respectively, and became full-time employees of Oliver & Leo as they like to say. She uses shapes, colors and light to create visual poetry as a rather sensitive person, while he’s a poet at heart, screenwriter by profession. Keep reading and learn all about them!
Hi Elo & Óttar! Can you introduce yourselves?
E: I’m a photographer, music and soda water lover from the South of Spain. I used to be a Spanish teacher, but when my kids were born, I decided to devote my (not very much) free time to photography, something that I started doing when I was barely 9 years old with my grandma’s camera. I DJ sometimes as well.
Ó: I’m a Czech-Icelandic writer, both of novels and screenplays. I was born and raised in Reykjavík, but I’ve lived in Spain for almost 13 years now and I really love it here.
What was your upbringing like? Any things or traditions (Icelandic and Spanish) that you’re consciously trying to incorporate into your kid’s upbringing?
E: I grew up in two different homes. In the one with my parents and my twin sisters, I would play endlessly outside with all my fellow neighbors in our pedestrian street, from hide and seek to GI Joes to rollerskating or super traditional games that are hardly played anymore. And then in my grandma’s house I enjoyed peeling peas and beans with her, seeing her flowers grow, painting with my grandfather, listening to cassettes on my walkman, inventing and recording silly radio programs with my sisters and making umbrella fortresses. My mother is the oldest of 10 siblings and I got to spend lots of time with all of them when I was young. I was never bored — this is probably what I’d like my kids to embrace: the capacity of entertaining and enjoying themselves even with the simplest things.
Ó: Growing up in Iceland was a beautiful thing. My friends and I enjoyed so much freedom because it’s a very safe place. We were like tiny savages, battling with sticks, hiding in gardens, building snow castles and jumping in puddles the size of small ponds. I’m trying to give my two boys the chance to be as free as I was, but here in Barcelona, where we live.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
E: We always wake up very early (too often before 7 am), so the first thing in the morning is reading and playing with my kids in bed while sometimes trying really hard for them not to fight! Then I usually get a bit of time to work on my current project(s), cook and/or attend online photography classes. Then I get to snuggle a bit with my little one for his nap. When it’s my turn to pick up the older one, we go on little adventures to the store, the library, or whatever errand that needs to be done. We like stopping in some park or playground on the way and then getting some cosy time at home, video-calling the family, playing and watching some cartoons (Hey Duggee is a favorite right now). Normally I would meet some friends but it’s hard to synchronize the nap times/viruses of all our kids these days!
Ó: It depends on the projects Elo and me are working on at the time, but when I’m not involved in anything heavy, I love to walk my boys through the city in the morning, dropping my older one off at daycare and then going with my younger one to a playground. He then takes his daily nap around noon, where I get a small rest, and then I like to pick up my older one from daycare at 14:00 and take him to a park. We eat dinner early, and both are usually asleep around 19:30. That’s when we get some quality time, by which I mean watching TV!
What excites you most about raising your kids?
E: I love witnessing their endless curiosity, how absolutely everything is new in their eyes, how they question every single thing, how they can focus on the tiniest details, how they make all those connections and memories. I’m also fascinated by how growing up with four different languages (Icelandic, English, Spanish and Catalan) is affecting their reality. In the meantime, I love taking pictures of them and seeing how they grow.
Ó: Personally, it’s the chance to spend time with them and really see how they change, grow, learn, and develop on a day-to-day basis. It’s just so amazing and fascinating to see how they’re constantly figuring out more and more how the world works.
Tell us what you do professionally. Could you explain your work as a photographer (Elo) and writer / screenwriter (Óttar)?
E: Even though I’ve been taking pictures for 20 years, it’s just now that I’m starting to call myself a photographer. Photography has always been my way of engaging with the world, of trying to understand it and showing my way of seeing it as a rather sensitive person. After 8 years of teaching Spanish to foreigners, I decided to finally study photography and that led to the necessity of doing a bit more complex, long documentary projects, as well as some commercial work like the one I did for SOLO Magazine.
Ó: I’m a writer. I used to write novels and publish them in Iceland and other countries, but I’ve focused on screenwriting for the past 6-7 years, both TV and movies. I write across most genres, and I usually work with a director or a producer on specific projects. It’s a long process to make a movie or a show, so I was very happy when a show I helped write called The Valhalla Murders got made and shown on Netflix in 2020.
Where do you find the inspiration for creating? Any fellow artists that you want to share?
E: It’s hard for me not to find inspiration, probably because, deep down, I never really grew up, and I keep getting surprised by the world as I did when I was a kid. A classic artist that I admire is Bruno Munari, an absolute master of creativity in every sense. And I’m lucky to have some fellow friends whose work I love: Giulia Sagramola, Chema Peral, Iván Solbes and Cristina Daura are amazing illustrators. Music is also a very important part of my life — I never learnt to play an instrument, but I’ve been doing mixtapes since 1993 when I sneaked to my uncle and aunt’s home to access their awesome music collection.
Ó: I’ve been writing for over 20 years, so it’s not a question of finding inspiration anymore for me. Creating has become such a deep-rooted part of my DNA that I don’t fully understand how I would function without it. The list of filmmakers that I look up to and admire is so long it’s hard to name just one. But if you’d twist my arm, I might mention Denis Villeneuve, who has that rare gift to fuse art with entertainment.
Any upcoming projects (for both of you)?
E: I’m always documenting my family life, but I’m also working on several things right now: Balance, a photo book with some digital works from the past, taken in different cities and years, but that makes sense as some sort of love story in different chapters. Or Habitat, a long personal project about infertility. And together with Román Yñán, we’re in the early stages of a project that’s still in development. We’re gathering all sorts of material as bricks to build what will hopefully become a publication sometime next year.
Ó: As I mentioned earlier, making a movie or a TV series takes a long time, but I’m working on several projects that are on different stages. One of my scripts might go into production in the coming months, as well as a show I’ve been working on. Regardless of whether they get made or not, I love seeing my stories come to life on the page.
The “I’m a Poet” collection celebrates poetry and the poet’s sensitivity when it comes to observing life and nature. How important is poetry in your creativity? Do you find a connection between poetry and your art?
E: I strongly believe that poetry can exist and be built through and around images: using shapes, colors and light instead of words. I find photography as an essential tool to do so.
Ó: Well, I actually started my career as a poet. When I realized that I wanted to become a writer in my teens, that voice broke out through poetry. I ended up publishing five poetry collections. And although I moved onto novels and screenplays, I still believe that a certain sense of poetry, however you define it, lies at the heart of each great work of art.
This interview is part of The Bobo Choses Series, which focuses on the particular universe of different individuals and families who share and enjoy the cosmos of Bobo Choses.
A story by @fantasticmrnilsson, AD & Styling: @mafernavas, Photography: @anouk_nitsche, Production: @txell_hg, Styling assistant: @gomezgamanda, Models: Elo Vázquez @elovzqz, Óttar Nordfjörd @ottarmnordfjord Oliver & Leo