Men’s magazine editor: ‘Who’s hot, and who’s not?’

Men’s magazine Elska is celebrating its fourth birthday in September.

”I like to think of Elska as some kind of sexy anthropology journal,” explained 33-year-old editor and photographer Liam Campbell in 2015 when he launched the publication. Since then, Liam has traveled to more than twenty countries, including Iceland, to capture ”the bodies and voices of gay communities all over the world” in all their diversity. Fresh off the plane from Manila, Liam tells us more about his four-years journey and learning experiences, the upcoming edition and his plans for the future of the magazine.

Editor Liam Campbell. Each issue is dedicated to a certain city and the men who live there. The word “elska” means love in Icelandic. Liam decided to use it as the magazine’s title as he is a big fan of Iceland and Icelandic culture.

You launched Elska in September 2015. What does it feel like to be celebrating its fourth year?
“It certainly feels great but also really hard to believe. Originally there was a soft goal to get to twenty or twenty-five issues, but now that this milestone has passed, I don’t feel like stopping at all. Where do I push the milestone forward to though? Fifty sounds good, but judging by how fast time flew up to this point, Elska will reach fifty issues before I know it.”

Did you ever imagine that you would still be going strong four years later?
“In essence, no. I guess I imagined that I’d gain the sort of experience from Elska that would lead me into a career working in commercial photography or maybe for a mainstream magazine. Maybe I’d make ad hoc issues or something to scratch my creative itch, but I thought it would end after a couple of years. I knew that Elska would never make much money; however I learned to value other things more, like artistic freedom and the feedback I’ve had from readers who say how much Elska means to them. I feel I have a responsibility to them. I’ve also learned that I really don’t need or even want much money.”

The Reykjavík issue makes more use of the outdoors than the previous issues. “With such beautiful landscapes in Iceland, it would have been a shame not to involve them, but the focus is still on the boys. Also, this issue gives a more fully rounded portrait of each man: the images are less staged and the stories more personal. It’s a formula that will be followed for future issues,” Liam told GayIceland when the Icelandic issue was published.

How has Elska been received over the years?
“A lot of people just don’t understand what I do. They expect the people in Elska to be more famous, more fit, more young, and their stories to be more sensational or more salacious. They’re ready to judge everyone, put them into boxes, and rank them. ‘Who’s hot, and who’s not?’ This is absolutely not what I want to do or what I want to facilitate. It’s thankfully rare, but I occasionally get messages like, “Why would you put that guy on the cover of a magazine? Surely you could have found some-one better looking in that city.” I can’t fathom why someone would take the effort to write an email to express this sort of thing, but it makes me sad and cynical about humanity. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet learned how to shrug it off.”

Elska 01. Lviv – Semen M-2.

What have you learned from your experiences?
“One of my biggest takeaways from my experience has been the power of visibility. When I originally conceived of Elska I thought of using models because it just seemed the natural thing to do, because prior to Elska I had been doing some work in the fashion industry. However, when I started ‘casting’ I just felt uncomfortable with selecting or rejecting people by their looks so I just decided to welcome everyone. As I expected, we get a higher amount of positive feedback for a nude spread of some ‘traditionally hot’ guy, and that’s OK. But it means more when someone writes in to say, “Seeing different types of bodies in your magazine has made me feel better and more confident about my body.” Some-times I wonder if therefore I should focus on purposefully photographing certain types of bodies, to give even more visibility, but I think this visibility has greater power when different bodies are all together, equalised and not fetishised.”

Elska 16. Cape Town – Sonwabo S-2.

Can you share the most memorable story you’ve heard?
“I definitely have a few that stick out, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a story from Alejandro G in the Guadalajara issue. The story itself was nothing shocking, just another tale of a relationship turning into a long-distance one and trying to cope, but the way he told his story made me think a lot about myself. There was a line when he wrote, “I don’t want to wake up in the mornings anymore […] but I still do it”. I admire this level of honesty immensely. Most people would just say “I really miss him” or “I’m sad”, and although I respect people’s desire to be private, I’m a sucker for the dramatic. Then later he continues, “I take the pills that I have been taking for the last ten years to calm what the doctor calls depression and anxiety disorders, and I just call the consequences of living.” This really grabbed me, I understood so well, and it made me understand my own psychology better.

Ultimately what I really want for Elska is that people feel like they’ve travelled along with us to each city, met these guys in person, and got to know them. In some ways the intimacy and simplicity of the photography achieves that and sometimes it’s more the stories. Or hopefully it’s a combination of the two.”

Elska 15 Bogota. Mario A y Gabriel P-2.

You’ve been to 25 cities to date, in more than 20 countries: how do you pick them?
“There’s generally three factors to choosing a city. The main consideration is geographical diversity. For example, last year we did an issue in South America, followed by one in Africa, then Australia, then North America, then Europe. As for picking the specific cities, it’s often influenced by letters received from readers. For example, the Mumbai issue came about mainly because a bunch of people had written in asking us to go there, and eventually I decided to give in to their requests. Thirdly, cost is a factor. So if there’s a really cheap flight somewhere, or someone’s offering us a free place to stay, it can help swing a decision.”

Elska 21. Seoul – Jamin P-2.

The next edition, out on September 12, takes us to Manila. Can you give us a sneak peek?
“Manila was chosen largely due to reader requests. In fact, apart from NYC and San Francisco (neither of which we’ve featured yet), no other city had so many people write in asking us to visit. I never really thought much about the Philippines though, so I had no natural inclination to go there until enough people demanded it that I became curious. I suppose I imagined a highly Catholic conservative place, but the men I met there turned out to be super easy-going, really friendly, and also a bit overly modest and self-critical. If you get the issues, you’ll see a lot of cheeky smiles, quite a lot of nudity, and a fair amount of stories that will make you bang your head against the wall wondering how some people can be so down on themselves.”

Where can we find the print magazine in Iceland?
“I’m actually not sure of all the shops that sell Elska in Iceland, but I’ve heard reports of people finding them at various Penninn / Eymundsson bookshops across the country. Maybe at Keflavik airport, maybe in Akureyri, maybe at Kringlan and definitely at the Austurstræti locations.”

Elska 24 .Guadalajara – Ivan D-2.

What’s next on your bucket list?
“When I was a flight attendant, before Elska, my favourite ever destination I visited was Buenos Aires, so that’s high on my list, though the flights tend to be very high in cost. I also adore Montréal, but since it’s only a five-hour drive from where I live currently, I keep it in my back pocket in case I ever get ill or something and can’t travel far. I’d also love to return to Ukraine (where we made our first issue) to feature a different Ukrainian city; and maybe also Iceland, but only if someone can guarantee being able to find a dozen willing participants up in Akureyri.”

Á. Óskarsson
Á. Óskarsson

Á. Óskarsson offers a variety of products and services to sports centers, swimming pools, schools, kindergartens, and the general public. The company specializes in sport-related products, activity-focused games, and a wide range of solutions for sports facilities.

Á. Óskarsson has been involved in numerous big projects related to building sports facilities and has made it their benchmark to offer good quality products and equipment since the company was founded.

See links to social media in the upper left-hand corner


Á. Óskarsson selur fjölbreytt vöruúrval fyrir íþróttahús, sundlaugar, skóla og leikskóla og einnig ýmsar vörur til einkaafnota. Fyrirtækið selur vörur til íþróttaiðkunnar og leikja ásamt því að bjóða upp á ýmsar lausnir fyrir íþróttamannvirki.

Á. Óskarsson hefur komið að fjölda stórra verkefna við byggingu íþróttamannvirkja og hefur frá stofnun kappkostað að bjóða vandaðar og endingargóðar vörur.

Tenglar á samfélagsmiðla eru í efra horninu vinstra megin.



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    Omnom Chocolate
    - award-winning chocolate maker

      Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

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      At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.




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        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater
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        Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

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        Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

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        Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

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        VSÓ Ráðgjöf


          VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

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          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Contact Us

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