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Hanna Petersson talks overcoming the fear of an individual exhibition

As both an artist and an art director, Hanna Petersson understands the need to be resilient and versatile better than most. She must be open to exploring new impressions, trends and styles for any given project, but to simultaneously maintain her own voice, preferences, and personal edge. Being an art director challenges her to adapt to her clients’ demands and to be able to use her craft to perfect any style or medium that she is tasked with working on. She listens to the requests and demands of her clients, ensuring that she truly understands their vision and once she has grasped the concepts behind their ideas, she works tirelessly to bring their ideas to life in such a way that engages their target audiences and inevitably, sells their brand. She is motivated by the opportunity that her job brings her to explore a variety of different art forms and mediums, and to combine her fine arts skills with new, modern advances in design technology. It is a job unlike any other and it was what she lives to do.

In building her remarkable career, Petersson has offered her talents to well-known companies across the globe. For instance, in 2013, she landed herself a job with WorkShop: The Retail Agency. As a part of their concepting team, she helped visualize what projects would look like and determine how best to execute them. During her time working with WorkShop, Petersson aided clients such as Samsung, Canon, and The North Face. With that, she strengthened her presence in the design world by experimenting with new ideas and by bringing innovative solutions to the table on a continual basis.

After two years of working with WorkShop, Petersson broadened her experience by accepting a role with AdPlant in 2016. As an Art Director with AdPlant, she was responsible for identifying exactly what was needed to help her clients establish prestigious, well-known advertising campaigns. She worked on a series of packaging designs using her own set of unique illustrations and transforming them to suit the needs of her clients. She designed color combinations that would allow her clients’ products to fit within a category, but also stand out as desirable, individual products on their own. Although this presented a series of challenges for her, it helped Petersson to expand her experience in the design world and to help her career soar.

When Petersson speaks of her career, she is modest about her accomplishments. When her co-workers speak of her prowess in the design industry, however, they praise her abilities. After Petersson’s work with Grey New York, her Creative Director, Patricia Kendall, couldn’t help but recognize the type of asset that Petersson becomes to any design team. She exudes positive energy when she collaborates with others and she is able to lend a useful eye to clients who aren’t exactly sure how best to present their ideas.

“No matter how crazy things got, Hanna was enthusiastic and positive. She collaborated with others to create some truly groundbreaking work and she put in extra hours to ensure that every detail was perfect. Her design skills are impeccable and she’s a great thinker too,” said Kendall.

As the passionate artist that she is, Petersson loves working with her clients to develop successful advertisements and to help carry their ideas to greatness. Beyond that, she enjoys developing her own brand and her own artwork wherever she can. As a little girl, she always dreamed of being a storyteller and she is fortunate enough to be able to tell her stories through her images on a daily basis. In fact, in 2013, Petersson began developing her own illustration project which later became a full-scale story including upward of 40 illustrations within a single series. Initially, she showed the illustrations at a small-scale, local art gallery as part of a larger exhibit showcasing local talent. When her artwork began to receive positive feedback, she was inspired and decided to host her own, two-and-a-half-month-long exhibition. She found a venue in Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Sweden and was intrigued by the fact that as a center for the arts, the venue receives over a million visitors a year. When she pitched her project to the venue, they loved her ideas and agreed to lend her the space for her desired amount of time. For Petersson, it was a dream come true.

“Whenever people ask me what I liked about working on my exhibition, I can’t help but ask, ‘what couldn’t I have liked about it?’ Not only was it a great opportunity for me to explore a new art style that I had never tried before, but the feedback that I received from people who attended was so wonderful and encouraging. I remember the exhibit fondly, but I also recall how nervous I was about whether or not people would like my work. It is a huge risk to throw your work out into the world and have no idea how people will react, but I dared to try and I will now bring that feeling of courage with me in all of my future endeavors,” Petersson said.

When Petersson created her first drawing of the series, she had no idea how much of a success it would become. As her storyline started to come together, she knew that she had to share the illustrations on a platform that allowed people to view them at their own leisure and to interpret them as they wished. It helped her gain a new appreciation for the thing she loves to do most in this world and it taught her new lessons about how to present her art. She had to determine what information to give to the reader and how much space to give them to interpret her work on their own.

Following the tremendous success of her exhibit, Petersson has a new understanding of the risks involved with exhibiting your own art work. The thought of sharing the inner workings of one’s mind with the world is terrifying; however, Petersson is fulfilled to know that the risk was worth taking. The entire experience added a new flavor to her skill set and she was pleased with the way in which her audiences received her work. She was humbled when she read the exhibition’s guestbook and each compliment she received was a testament to the fact that she made the right decision in sharing her work with the public.

To other artists aspiring to who are hesitant to share their talents with the world for fear of failing, Petersson had this to say, “my advice is to be fearless; to dive into new projects and to learn as you go. Use the skills that you already have to learn new ones and to improve yourself wherever you possibly can. It will all pay off in the end.”

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