Hanna Nyman is a Swedish artist and product designer whose beautifully hand constructed paper works are a world onto themselves, a world of light and gardens overlapped with fanciful patterning.
Hanna began in screen printing on textiles as well as print design and one of her first major paper projects included a magnetic wallpaper with three-dimensional flowers growing out of the pattern, shown at Stockholm Furniture fair. After graduation she worked as a print designer in fashion for several years. Working with paper came naturally to Hanna, her own father was a printer, and the floral themes draw from time spent with her grandmother a florist. The artist’s ongoing sculptural paper series Back to Poetry was a turning point for her and led to a focus on paper art. It was pleasure to interview Hanna about her creative story and project!
Art as poem, poem as art, tell me more about this relationship and way of working?
This idea was actually born at art school when we did our final project for graduation. All the lecturers and professor during the years had described my work as poetic. I never really understood what they meant so I decided to get inspiration from a poem for this last project and figure it out.
This was so powerful to me! The poem that I chose lived with me those month. Every time I read it a found something new about it.
My work is narrative rather than functional. Poetry is also narrative – a feeling.
Tell me a bit about your process, inspiration, conceptualization, experiments, and what types of paper and materials do you use?
I always start my day with a quick look through Instagram and get my dose of inspiration straight away. I get the most energy when I look at artists that work with different materials or have a different style. I also find interior design very inspiring.
I usually get really inspired by the colors and hand feel of the different papers in paper shops. Normally I don’t have a clue of what I will make when I go in there but when I go out my mind is full of ideas.
I almost never draw any sketch before I start to cut. I have a picture in my head and I just make up as I go along. It’s very liberating and experimental for me to work like this. I use different types of paper. Thick, thin, newspaper. Once I made huge pieces for a client made out of garbage.
This is what’s so amazing with paper. It’s flat and boring at start but if you put some effort into it, it can become something amazing.
Did you make art as a child? Can you tell me more about your training and background?
I made all kind of arts as a child. Mostly I used to paint on stuff and make my own doll houses and small furniture out of cardboard. I was also into wooden crafts in high-school. We had a really nice workshop with all the machines and material plus the best teacher. So I spent most of my time there. After high-school the plan was to keep on study furniture design. But somehow I moved to London and started study fashion design. I moved back home after a year and after a couple of years all I did was make clothes until I realized that it was the decoration that appealed to me, not the clothes themselves.
At this point I started to study at Konstfack. I was accepted as a “special student”, and that meant that I could use the whole school, every department however I wanted. This was perfect for me as I had a background in different materials. When I think about those years i still think this was the most creative place I’ve ever been and it was just wonderful. It was at this time I started to work with paper.
Not many people have seen the flowers and sculptures in real life.
Why florals? Are there specific traditions you refer to in painting, textile art or illustration you find yourself drawn to?
My grandmother was a florist. I remember growing up visiting her at the shop. I sat on the counter and just looked at all the beauty. Maybe that’s why I always been drawn to flowers. When I was working a lot with all-over prints my favorite was always making big colourful florals.
If you would describe your vision and style in a few sentences what would you say?
I use my paper sculptures as illustrations. A big part of the final result is the photography. It gives me the chance to set the tone and feeling to the picture. I like to keep the colours a bit toned down together with black and a splash of a strong color. A dream would of course be so show them somewhere in the future to the public in some way.