Joel Persson, CEO/Creative Director

Joel Persson is a multi-award winning Art Director and Editor with over 20 years’ experience of working with brand communication – in advertising agencies as well as breaking new ground in the magazine world. In 2011, he founded ICON Magazine with Peter Smirnakos, a magazine with the idea of daring to look beyond the obvious and “giving people what they didn’t know they wanted”, regardless of the subject matter. Joel is driven by curiosity, vision, and the firm belief that everything can be done better.

With ICON Brands, he wants to work closely with customers who understand that the businesses of the future and their communications must be value-driven and value-adding. They must be about giving consumers 5 minutes, not taking 5 minutes of their time. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Art Director of the Year, the Golden Egg award, the Swedish Publishing Award, and Swedish Content Awards, and has been nominated many times for Swedish Magazine Publishers Association awards.



Hanna Willquist, President

Hanna Willquist has ten years of experience working with business and concept development. She has a background in both B2B from Dagens Industri and B2C (Bonnier Magazines and Aller Media), and over the years has launched over a hundred concepts in media and communications.

At Aller Media, Hanna ran the content section and most recently at Bonnier Magazines she worked as a concept manager with overall responsibility for the Bonnier brands. She founded ICON Brands with Peter Smirnakos and Joel Persson based on a belief that communications in the future will be done best with great commitment, small teams, and proximity to the customer throughout the entire value chain – from idea to end result.



Peter Smirnakos, Executive Chairman/Editorial Director

Peter Smirnakos is an award-winning writer, editor and copywriter with over 15 years’ experience of journalism and storytelling. He has managed and developed several media brands,  and in 2011 founded ICON Magazine with Joel Persson, based on a vision of a modern, unisex magazine without editorial limits. Peter is driven by passion, progress and fear of his own mortality, and throws himself as readily into technology, politics and the environment as popular culture and fashion.

With ICON Brands, he aims to combine creativity and an ordered chaos with research and analysis in order to create world-class communications for companies who believe in change through inspiration. He is the recipient of the Swedish Publishing Award, Swedish Content Awards and has been nominated many times for the Swedish Magazine Publishers Association awards.



Maja Persson, Editor/Writer

Maja Persson started her career as a 19-year-old at the Swedish edition of Cosmopolitan, the world’s biggest international magazine. When she was 27, she took over as Editor-in-chief, and began working closely with the parent publisher Hearst, an experience that taught her how a brand is established, communicated, and refined through well-informed journalism and an intimate relationship with readers. Since 2010, she has combined project management for award-winning editorial publications with in-depth portraits for magazines such as ICON and editorial work at editorial offices such as ELLE magazine and agencies such as Klintberg Niléhn.

Maja’s sphere of interests extends from indigenous peoples and Jung’s world of symbolism to mixed martial arts (MMA), quantum physics, and samba. She is known as a stylist with true flair, and is driven by a combination of a thirst for knowledge and a passion for journalistic quality.

Joel Persson

Motto for life: Always do your best and always be curious.
Word: Possibility.
City: Florence and New York.
Film: Magnolia and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
Series: TED.
Reading: Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing.
Campaign: Most of what Nike does is fantastic.
Hidden talent: Can run 90 kms.

Hanna Willquist

Motto for life: Start by doing what’s necessary.
Word: Sharp/sensitive.
City: San Francisco
Film: Birdman
Series: River
Reading: Everything by Arto Paasilinna.
On my bucket list: Go skiing in Japan and standing (for a long time) on my head.

Peter Smirnakos

Motto for life: Work hard, be nice to people.
Word: Soulfulness.
City: Tokyo
Film: Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Series: Chef’s Table.
Reading: Let my people go surfing.
Campaign: ”So god made a farmer”, Ram Trucks.
On my bucket list: Travelling to the Antarctic and writing a screenplay.

Maja Persson

Motto for life: Taste what life has to offer.
Word: Yes.
City: Rio de Janeiro.
Film: Embrace of the Serpent.
Reading: Civilisation and its Discontents by Sigmund Freud.
Hidden talent: Can wrestle bigger and stronger men to the ground.