Next Creative Leaders: Hanna Wittmark
on Oct 28, 2017
Art Director - Goodby, Silverstein & Partners San Francisco
Three words you’d use to describe yourself?
I am a curious, competitive Swede.
What work are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of the “I Am a Witness” campaign we did for the Ad Council two years ago. It was definitely one of the most challenging and rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on. To be a creative, and be part of creating a tool that helps teens fight cyber bullying doesn’t happen every day.
The day that Apple confirmed our emoji would be added to every iPhone in the world was pretty special. It made every second of hard work worth it and reminded me that the most difficult projects often have the biggest rewards.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
I moved to America for a four-month-long internship, and now I have been here for almost seven years ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I’m just living the American dream I guess.
Seven years is like three lifetimes in ad land. What makes you stay?
I have one rule: As long as my work at an agency feels fun and not like an obligation, I will keep doing it. Seven years in and GSP still feels that way to me. I still have a lot to learn from the leadership and the people I work with. When every passing year feels shorter and shorter, that feels like a good sign.
Your Partner is also a Next Creative Leader. Clearly, you’re a winning combo. What’s so magic about your partnership?
If you put Atlanta and Stockholm in a blender, you’d get us: A little dark, a little sassy, but with this Scandinavian/Southern work ethic that just makes sense. We’re from two different parts of the world, and yet we totally get each other. We complement each other nicely, too. We have the same dark sense of humor and we’re always trying to have fun at work. I think it is reflected in the work we make.
You began your career in Sweden. How was that experience different from working in the US and in what ways has it shaped your creative approach?
Everything in Sweden is smaller. The whole industry, clients and budgets. I think that helped me learn to think “small and simple” first. Now that I’m working at a bigger agency with bigger clients, I apply that kind of thinking to the bigger scale. Through storytelling they can be both entertaining and useful.
Sounds like your home country is still very much a part of who you are. How do you manage being so far from home?
Sweden will be my home as long as Swenglish is my second language. But now it’s really more like I have two homes, and I feel pretty lucky about that. As long as I get my work done, GSP allows me to go home to my family and friends as needed. That flexibility makes a huge difference.
I also want to give a shout out to Norwegian Airlines, WhatsApp and FaceTime for being a huge part of my life!
Margaret Johnson is a huge supporter of yours. What has it been like working with her?
It’s always been pretty simple. Margaret is very honest, fair and direct, which are qualities I really appreciate and look up to in a boss. I always feel that Margaret wants me to grow and be the best I can be…and that’s true leadership in my eyes.
Having Margaret in your corner sounds like a game changer. How have you paid that mentorship forward with other creatives coming up behind you?
I’ve been lucky enough to get invited back to both of my ad schools—Bergh’s School of Communication and Hyper Island—to teach classes to young female creatives on how to present themselves and work in the best way possible. I also always try to be a mentor to one or two female students a year. I regularly get contacted by students from Hyper Island, which is honestly one of the biggest compliments I could get.
What’s your biggest piece of advice to creatives who want to keep growing?
Never stop exploring who you are and what you want to do next. Don’t overthink life. Be generous and honest. Don’t play dirty games (It will come back and bite you in the ass). Be humble and treat people around you how you want to be treated.
Who’s your biggest #Shero right now?
My four-year-old goddaughter, Bonnie, who is getting ready to take over the world and my partner in crime, Kate Baynham , for always crushing it.
Click here to view her award winning work