Enchanted Vision: Laufey Jónsdóttir’s Botanical Inspirations

Laufey Jónsdótttir has planted her seed, pun intended and is reaping the harvest as a sought-after illustrator and graphic designer in Iceland. Her vintage-like botanical collage illustrations can be spotted on local gin and rhubarb wine bottles at every restaurant and bar in Reykjavik

Laufey possesses a special connection to Iceland’s wild flora, with a unique talent for capturing its essence. Her understanding of Arctic flora is thoughtfully reflected on various artisanal spirits and shines in the new Sóley Organics packaging. In this conversation with Anna Rósa Parker, Laufey Jónsdótttir discusses the benefits of nature, balancing analytical and creative thinking, and delves into her latest children’s book illustrations. 

Laufey originally studied Fashion Design at the Art University in Iceland where she discovered that her interest lay more in drawing and the illustration aspect of fashion design, ultimately leading her towards a career in graphic design. At home, Laufey cultivates an impressive collection of 170 summer plants, and loves growing new ones from seeds. She also crafts unique botanical cocktail recipes and shared her favorite Arctic Thyme Gimlet with us.

How did the artwork for Sóley develop?

I collaborated with Steinþór Rafn at Konsept, the designer of the packaging. Steinþór has been working with Sóley Organics for a while as a designer and photographer. His vision was to bring a handcrafted touch to the design through illustration, reflecting the origin and essence of the brand. I based the artwork on my prior work with ink, aiming to develop a style that had a rich handmade feeling, with prominent brushstrokes and depth within the limitations of one color. 

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

I am fortunate to work on a wide range of projects, from advertising campaigns and packaging design to children’s illustrations and, perhaps my most unusual project, ant nest design. In my work the origin of inspiration depends on the project and concept. But in my daily life, I enjoy finding surprising inspiration and beauty in the mundane, in nature, and in the little things: a gap in the window blinds acting like a pinhole camera projecting the street onto my wall, interesting patterns left by a car in the snow, or the multicolored rocks on a gravel street.

What makes Icelandic nature so uniquely captivating?

In my eyes, it’s the variety and otherworldly feeling of our landscapes. The color combinations, patterns, and textures special to Icelandic nature; even our sky has a unique color palette. We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by all this untouched nature. The beneficial effects of spending time in nature have been long proven. I find it very calming being a meager human in the enormity of our wilderness; it puts everything into perspective. 

When I take the time to go into nature, the black sand beaches are my favorite. There are plenty of little things to discover in the sand, the serene sound of the waves, and the vastness to "stretch my eyes."

How do you navigate and embrace your creative journey?

I am very curiosity-driven, which probably explains the diversity of my projects. I love to learn, collaborate with people in different fields, master different techniques, and delve into new subjects. It's important to me to have a good balance between analytical and creative thinking. I tend to be very analytical and perfectionistic at times, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If I find myself overthinking, I sometimes use techniques to purposely dial down that part of my brain and let ideas flow more freely. I think it's also important to balance commercial work with personal projects, as it can lead to new perspectives and ideas that enhance commercial work.

What other exciting projects have you been working on? 

Alongside creating the botanical illustrations for Sóley’s new packaging, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the writer and biologist Marco Mancini on the children’s book Matti and Anty – The Hidden World of Icelandic Ants. The story is about an unlikely friendship between a boy and a very special ant. Marco has been studying Icelandic ants since 2019 and has shared their fascinating world through media and his website, "Ants in Iceland." His research is intriguing, and it was fascinating to delve into the world of ants. They are unbelievable creatures; truth really is stranger than fiction when it comes to ants.

Does your interest in Arctic herbs influence your culinary creations?

I’ve peeked into the world of craft cocktails and experimented a bit with our wild arctic herbs. My favorite is using Blóðberg (Arctic Thyme) as a twist on a classic Gimlet. Best of all is if you can make a day of it with friends or family: hand-pick wild Blóðberg in the morning, make Blóðberg syrup at noon, spread it on waffles at lunch, spice a leg of lamb with fresh Blóðberg leaves at dinner, and finish with a Blóðberg Gimlet in the evening. For a non-alcoholic version, you can make a Blóðberg lemonade by mixing the syrup with lemon juice and water.

Would you be so kind as to share this exquisite Blóðberg Gimlet recipe with us?

Of course!

Blóðberg (Arctic Thyme) Gimlet 


  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part fresh lime juice
  • 1 part Blóðberg (Arctic Thyme) syrup


  1. Chill a glass with ice while preparing the cocktail.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, fresh lime juice, and Blóðberg syrup. Shake thoroughly with the ice used to chill the glass.
  3. Taste and adjust the acidity or sweetness as desired.
  4. Pour the mixture into the glass, straining out the ice.
  5. For an enhanced taste experience, garnish the glass with fragrant fresh Blóðberg. Dip half the rim of the glass into the Blóðberg syrup, then into a mixture of sugar and fresh Blóðberg.

Blóðberg Syrup


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Blóðberg (Arctic Thyme)


  1. Boil the water and sugar together until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Remove the pot from heat, add the Blóðberg, and stir.
  3. Let the mixture cool, then strain to remove any impurities.


Learn more about Laufey on her website or Instagram 

Images of Laufey taken by Kristín Pétursdóttir