How A Norwegian Statistician Turned Snack Time Into The Most Popular Food Account On Instagram

Norwegian photographer Ida Skiveness makes some of the most playful, creative food porn you’ll ever see.

With more than 226,000 followers, her Instagram profile (@idafrosk) is the most popular food-focused account on the photo-sharing site. Her artfully arranged food has led to TV appearances, ad campaigns, and even a book, “Eat Your Art Out,” that will be available in seven languages by the end of the year.

Yet Ida says that she never expected to be so successful on Instagram.

“In 2012, more or less on accident, I saw some other food art, and it inspired me to make a connection between these two things,” she said to Business Insider. “It kind of spiraled from there.”

Now based in Berlin, Ida has officially taken leave from her job at Norway’s official bureau of statistics to focus on her photography full-time.

We recently spoke with Ida to hear more about her journey to social media fame.

Ida had an interest in photography and design from a young age. In 2011 she became a vegetarian, which gave her a new awareness of the food she was eating. She documented her meals on her Instagram account, @idafrosk.

Her photography had a quirky perspective from the beginning. The caption on this photo reads: 'The Battle of the Vicious Hole Puncher and the Liquorice Animals (Or: Office Boredom Takes Over).' She was working in Norway's official bureau of statistics at the time.

The first artistic creation she made was a strawberry fox and a banana bear on toast. They're pretty adorable, but Ida says she was pleasantly surprised by the positive response she got. 'I got a lot of good feedback, and it motivated me to see if I could come up with other ideas,' she said to Business Insider.

She started trying out different food designs, photographing them and posting them to Instagram before leaving for work in the morning.

As Ida makes her art, she puts a lot of thought into which ingredients will look best and hold in place. Things with texture always photograph better than fluid ingredients; Greek yogurt, for example, works better than regular yogurt.

'Cucumbers and carrots are easy to carve, and they come in a lot of colours,' she said.

Taste is also an important consideration, as Ida eats all of her creations after she's done photographing them. 'I don't want to waste food, so I try to think about flavours that combine well,' she said.

Ida finds inspiration for her food photos from many different places, but she often focuses on classic works of art, like Edvard Munch's 'The Scream.'

She started a series she calls 'Art Toast,' where she uses a piece of toast as a canvas for a classic piece, like this self-portrait by Frida Kahlo. 'The art is a bit more difficult and time-consuming,' she said. 'I try to keep the spirit of the artwork, especially in terms of colour use.'

'I can't draw or paint or anything,' she said. 'But I've found my own creative medium.'

In January of 2013, Ida's account got an official recommendation from the Instagram team. Her follower count exploded, adding 25,000 new fans in just one day.

The media soon caught on, and Ida started making appearances in newspapers and magazines in Norway.

TV appearances followed. 'Second Time On TV in 4 Days - Norwegian TV 2 at 17:30 today!' the caption on this photo reads.

By August of 2013, she had released a book of her Instagram photos. Entitled 'Eat Your Art Out: Playful Breakfasts by IdaFrosk,' the book was released in the U.S. in October and will be available in five more languages by the end of the year.

She officially took a one-year leave of absence from her statistics job in August, deciding to devote herself more seriously to her photography. She collaborates with newspapers, magazines, and advertising agencies on food art projects, like this 'Fashionable Food' spread she did for the September 2013 issue of British Vogue. This photo was inspired by Prada's Autumn/Winter Collection for 2013.

Transitioning to doing photography full-time was a challenge for Ida. 'Going from a job that was very safe to freelance life was certainly a leap that took a bit of courage,' she said. 'But now that I'm officially out of the safety net of my job, I can do a lot of projects.' Here she appears in an ad promoting food recycling in Oslo, Norway.

And she did this toast art, inspired by 'The Scream,' for a live-streamed cooking event hosted by Swedish household appliance company Electrolux.

Ida posts food art to Instagram three times a week. Now that she doesn't have to rush to do her photography before work, she works when the natural lighting looks best. She spends afternoons coordinating projects and processing the images.

She devotes Sundays to researching ideas for future projects. 'For art I want to do something iconic that people will recognise,' she said. 'I usually pick an artist I want to do, then figure out a work I am able to do in food.' Here, she puts a delicious spin on Van Gogh's 'Starry Night.'

She also does projects in honour of special events, like the beginning of the World Cup in Brazil.

Ida says she continues to be surprised that her food art is so popular. 'I suppose the reason behind that is it's so specialised. I've found my niche,' she said. 'Presentation is my strength, and it helps me stand out a bit.'

She adds that Instagram as a platform has been extremely important for her development as an artist. 'The focus is on photos, and there's not much clutter around. Your attention goes straight to the photos,' she said. 'You get instant feedback so you can see what works and what doesn't work. It gives you the opportunity to adjust what you do.'

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.