Postcard: Tromso

Posted by Scott


I’m back in San Francisco after a very long trip home (around 20 hours over three flights) from Tromsø, Norway. It was great doing the workshop and playing at Insomnia; I really appreciate everyone coming out. Unfortunately I was sick almost the whole time so I didn’t get to see and do as much as I’d have liked while in this amazing place. But thanks to my gracious hosts — Annette and Simen, who went out of their way to show me around — I was able to get out and experience some of what Tromsø has to offer. I honestly had no idea what to expect from this place; I’d been so busy that I never had the chance to do any research before I left. Saying I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement to say the least — Tromsø is absolutely one of the most interesting and beautiful places I’ve ever had the good fortune to visit. It’s the sort of alpine paradise that conjures up idealized notions of northern Europe in the 60’s. In fact, Röyksopp hail from Tromsø and it certainly shows in their Epel video (below). I felt like I was living it when I took the gondola up the mountain.

For starters, it’s a city rich in quality design and typography, thanks in part to Tank (pronounced “Tonk”), an Oslo-based design shop founded by Tromsø natives who have now returned and formed a satellite office in their home town. They’ve designed everything from packaging for the locally brewed Mack beer to the beautifully executed branding for local cafe Kaffebønna (which now sits squarely in my top 5 worldwide list for best coffee shops — worth a visit for the awesome pricing signage alone). Incidentally, Tank’s Tromsø office sits directly above another excellent cafe, Circa, which serves up some of the best sandwiches and tea I’ve had in a while. And by the way, all that amazing furniture we have to pay and arm and a leg for here in the states? It’s everywhere in Norway… Even the smallest cafe will have some incredible couch chilling in the corner that only rich art director types have over here.

But beyond all of the man-made fare, the real attraction is the natural beauty. Tromsø is situated right above the arctic circle and, as a result, the scenery is nothing short of stunning. Sharp, snow-covered mountain peaks jutting out from sea-level make for some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery I’ve ever laid eyes or lens on. Sadly, the days are very short at this time of the year. That, coupled with the fact that I spent most of my time sweating out a fever in bed, means I only got a couple hours of shooting in. But that’s all the more reason for a return trip, which I’ve already begun planning.

So thanks again to everyone from Tromsø for showing me a great time. And if you have the chance, I highly recommend a visit — I feel very lucky to have stumbled into this incredible place. Oh, and if you don’t have time to visit, you can live the experience vicariously through one of my all time favorite music videos:

P.S. Anyone know where I can buy these Fribol Herbal Drops in the US? I got them in Norway, they’re amazing and I can’t find a similar alternative here. Although I assume since they actually work and contain neither sugar nor drugs, they’re most certainly illegal in the states.

38 Comments Leave A Comment


Ole Martin says:

October 28, 2009 at 5:11 am

Thanks for a great workshop on Friday and I really enjoyed your concert on Saturday! Where can I buy the LP you designed for Casino Versus Japan? I think it will look great next to Coastal Brake on the wall.


Jon says:

October 28, 2009 at 5:40 am

Is there anything you can’t do well, Scott?

Amazing visual artist, music producer/musician, eloquent writer and great photographer.

Fuck it, I quit.


Chris says:

October 28, 2009 at 5:49 am

Hi Scott just wondering what camera you used to take the above shots with?

The place looks amazing!


mike cottone / the green kingdom says:

October 28, 2009 at 5:52 am

Glad you’re back safely Scott, badly-timed sicknesses always suck. Looks like an amazing place for sure!

I love the track, but I’ve never seen that Eple video, thanks for sharing. Their video for Poor Leno is awesome as well with some sweet animated vector illustrations and charts and stuff…


Ramune ( says:

October 28, 2009 at 5:55 am

Gorgeous shots! I especially like the green door and the really tall photo of the ship. How fascinating that you were able to go north of the Arctic Circle. Very cool. Thanks for sharing!


Daniel Carvalho says:

October 28, 2009 at 6:45 am

Damn, I need to travel again. I don’t do it enough.

Any word on if the recording was possible Scott? I don’t have any expectations; if I was sick, trying to soak in the sights and do a workshop, I probably wouldn’t have concerned myself too much with the video.


Joshua Schnable says:

October 28, 2009 at 7:02 am

“…local cafe Kaffebønna (which now sits squarely in my top 5 worldwide list for best coffee shops…”

What are the other four? I can’t imagine Blue Bottle not being in your top five, and you have the good fortune of living in the city that brews it.


Jesse says:

October 28, 2009 at 7:49 am

So beautiful! Its funny I prefer to be in warm humid climates, but I than I also prefer the look and character of places typically colder. Great pics/story thanks for sharing!


James says:

October 28, 2009 at 7:59 am

I wish I could tell you where to find the Fribol Herbal Drops, but your comment about them being illegal in the states cracked me up. Haha. So sad, but so true. Great photos as usual, btw.


Kjell-Roger says:

October 28, 2009 at 8:09 am

It’s always amazing to see photography from foreigners visiting our country. You tend to see what we natives find to normal to bother shooting. Cool shots! I’m way sorry I couldn’t get myself to Tromsø this weekend.
Hopefully you will return someday!



simen says:

October 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

Your photos turned out, as I expected, really nice!
Just wanted to let you know about this guy Rune Johansen. His photos are amazing and most of them are shot up here in the north of Norway.
Think you’ll like his work : )

Hope to see you back here soon!


Christel says:

October 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

I just have to agree with everyone that your pictures are amazing, would love to know what camera or filter you’re using.
Going to see Röyksopp next week, weii!


Scott Lowe says:

October 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

Awesome photos man. They fit the astetic of the blog perfectly.

I’m with Jakub I think you should take the photo of the mountains or or SOREM and put them as your header or feature them somehow.


TF says:

October 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Hei. I got the link to your page from a friend of mine in Brazil who is a designer. Wonderful pictures!! I am a brazilian (from Rio de Janeiro) living in Tromsø since 2005. A lot of people use to say that I am totally crazy to move to Tromsø. I just fell in love with the city and the country. To the norwegians I use to say that they think that because they are spoiled and to brazilians I use to say that they have to come and see to understand.
The only thing I have to disagree with you is about the best coffee in town. Have you been at Helmersen Delikatesser? It is a small shop that sells all kinds of delicious cheeses and other delicious things from all over the world. There you can find the best coffee in town. =)


Jarson says:

October 28, 2009 at 8:16 pm

god damn that second photo is really beautiful. Well, all of them are beautiful! I assume they were taken with the d80, right?


Scott says:

October 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Thanks everyone…

To answer a couple questions:

A. As for the workshop video, we didn’t have a chance to get a good camera in time. I am trying to get that arranged for amsterdam and toronto though so there should be something coming soon.

B. I used the D80 for all those shots. If I had it to do over again I’d probably go with Canon, but the D80 can get the job done. It is horrible in low light though and the noise at ISO800 and up is pretty bad. Starting to seriously consider the 5DMKII unless Nikon comes out with a successor to the D700 that has HD video.


NC says:

October 29, 2009 at 2:39 am

Hi, Brilliant photos…Kinda makes me want to splash out on a decent camera. just wondering, how do you get that old style colour effect? It’s probably a complete noob question, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. If it’s photoshop would love to know the steps to get something similiar.



Leo says:

October 29, 2009 at 3:17 am

Hi Scott,

Humble Greetings to you !

You are indeed one of the best digital artist around today. you are so multi talented ( design / music / photography / writing ) it simply amazes me how can you be good at so many different art forms. I thank you for your amazing inspiration to me and all of the design community in general. Thank you very much for sharing the moments of Tromso with us through your article and amazing photographs.

Is there any possibility that you could have workshop in London UK please. If people working for Apple / Adobe are reading this post, they must invite you for the workshops / seminar that they conduct.

please organise a workshop for your fans in London.

Also i Agree with NC’s comments, please share the tips on photoshop ( if you have used to process the photographs ) and setting used on the D80 Nikon camera please. it will be really helpful.

Thanks in advance for all your help and inspiration.

Kindest Regards


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