inkt|art issues / nonfiction

Yule Lads


The jólasveinarnir, or Yule Lads, are Iceland’s version(s) of Santa. According to legend, thirteen of them visit children on the twelve nights leading up to Christmas. Depending on whether the child has been good or bad, they leave toys or rotting potatoes in their shoes. The jólasveinarnir were originally a form of trolls/vagrants, and as many fairy tales and folklore legends go, they are pretty nasty and are always trying to steal food from you. A good friend of mine hails from Ísafjörður, a town in the northwest of Iceland. When he told me about the jólasveinarnir, I knew I had to make a series of drawings celebrating them and their antics. I partnered up with Nanna Árnadóttir to make a sort of advent calendar of modernized takes on them for the Reykjavik Grapevine. Here is a selection of some of my favorites.


K-Fai Steele, Icelandic Santa 1


K-Fai Steele, Icelandic Santa 2

K-Fai Steele, Icelandic Santa 3

K-Fai Steele, Icelandic Santa 4

K-Fai Steele, Icelandic Santa 5

K-Fai Steele, Icelandic Santa 6

K-Fai Steele lives and draws in San Francisco. She is interested in the intersection of drawing, writing and reading, and creative technology. @kfaisteele @areyouokfai. Steele’s work has appeared in Arthur Magazine, Philly Weekly, Margin Journal, the Head and the Hand Press, and more.

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