Swedish Art Director Hanna Petersson tells stories through imagery

Hanna Petersson

When Hanna Petersson was growing up, she would sit and draw for hours. However, her drawings were not simple doodles, they told stories. When she was just a child, this involved elaborate fairy tales, but as she grew, she began to become more fascinated with everyday occurrences and objects. She started to tell her stories in more realistic ways, and always did so through images. Now, she still uses images to tell stories, but she does so as a sought-after art director.

“As an art director, you must always be open to new impressions, trends and styles, but also to keep your own voice and preferences. You need to adapt to each new project and be able to use your craft to perfect any style or medium necessary to make your ideas a reality. This makes me very versatile and I am not afraid to try something new or to dive deep into a new trend or an art style I have not yet pursued,” said Petersson.

Her love of what she does far surpasses Petersson’s other motivations for being an art director. Her passion is evident with each stroke of her pen, and her ideas have contributed to increased sales and customer engagement with many brands. She has worked with Häagen-Dazs, Canon, Pringles, T.J. Maxx, Lego, Victoria’s Secret, Nissan, Advil, and Pandora, just to name a few. No matter who she works with, they are impressed, and clients are continuously thrilled with her work.

“No matter how crazy things got, Hanna was enthusiastic and positive. She collaborated with a few others to create some truly breakthrough work, and put in the extra hours to make sure every detail was perfect. Her design skills are impeccable and she’s a great thinker too,” said Patricia Kendall, Creative Director at Grey New York, who worked with Petersson on many projects.

Despite all of her success and accolades, the highlight of Petersson’s career was working with the Swedish retail agency WorkShop. While with the company, she embarked on many high-profile projects, working with brands like Samsung, Canon, The North Face, Apoteksgruppen, Boxer, and Swedish Match.

Swedish Match is a Swedish company based in Stockholm that makes snus, moist snuff, and chewing tobacco. Petersson’s work with the company is extremely impressive, as she took on many projects with them to make the brand the success they are today. She did the concept art for the interior decoration of the first store. It was extremely successful, causing more stories to be built based off the concept that she designed. There was also a book sold in the store telling the story of the products sold, which featured a series of illustrations that Petersson drew specifically for this purpose, and which were used to create a better customer experience and to help customers really connect with the brand.

Throughout the store’s conception, Petersson brought many innovative ideas to the project. Her work was essential to creating a cool and inviting space for customers and to make sure that the customers got a good experience when shopping. Without her, the project would have lost out on a lot of ideas and essential parts of the interior and designs, which would surely have decreased the success of the project. Together with the other creatives, Petersson created a store that became such a success that more stores soon followed in other cities around Sweden.

“It was great seeing that my work and energy had really helped make this project bigger than ever planned,” she said. “I really liked working on this project because I got a chance to bring a lot of ideas to the table and to really show what I am capable of. What was also great was that many of my ideas made to the final production of the project and I could really see how something I thought of transformed into this real thing that people interacted with. I also got to work with some great people and to collaborate to create even better ideas and to make this project a success. I remember the working process with fondness and am still very happy to have worked on it. It was a lot of fun, for sure,” she said.

Hanna Petersson and a fellow WorkShop employee

When Petersson started working on the project, there were regulations and the main goal was set: they needed an innovative, cool and inviting store that would be the first of its kind. This set up some rules for the art director, but this created an enticing challenge for her to push the limits of what could be achieved. She worked on developing different interior solutions to create the best possible space and to make people engage in the products. Her work was fruitful.

“I did not know when I started on the project that it would become such a smash hit, but that was really the proof that all my hard work was worth it and that I had been a part of making it a reality,” she said.

When WorkShop approached Petersson about the project, she was immediately intrigued. She wanted to create something special, original, and engaging, and help really build a brand. Swedish Match was looking for the best, and that is what they got with Petersson. Her work was directly responsible to not only the store’s success, but the company’s as a whole.

“I got a great feeling of accomplishment when people reacted so well to the project and my work. You can never really know how people are going to react to something new and different, but people really embraced it and the success of this project later led to more stores being opened, which was so much fun to see. It gave me great validation that my work really did have a great impact and how I was a part of this new and innovative concept that continues to spread and to be continuously developed even after I left the agency. My work on the first project is still the basis of the further developments of the new installations and it is really great to see something that you worked on for so long really succeed and meet its goal with more success than I could ever have expected. It is really a joy to think about,” she said.

Millions of people continue to see Petersson’s work with Swedish Match every year, and they are still impressed years later. There is little doubt as to why Petersson is considered one of the best. Even now, her work continues to tell a story, and she is quite the storyteller.