A common reaction to the annual report from Proventus in 1982 was, “What’s this? This doesn’t look like an annual report!” And that was correct, it didn’t. But its designer, Anders Wester (1955-2018) on the other hand didn’t care too much about how annual reports “should” look like, his only concern was to go beyond mere facts and figures to communicate also the heart and soul of Proventus. Wester continued to make Proventus’ annual reports for many years. And in the process he managed to turn a documentation destined for the bottom drawer, into a coveted publication with artistic value that spoke to others besides from the obvious economy reporter and financial analyst.


“The language of Proventus, is still the language of Anders”, says Robert Weil who goes on to describe Anders Wester as an important part of the Proventus family for decades. Wester’s qualities and demeanor goes very well with what Robert Weil wants Proventus to represent: analysis, long-term, close relations and contrarianism. “His uncompromisingness and clear analysis meant that he was always a few steps ahead. He could see and understand what was going on”, Robert Weil explains.


The two of them had first met some years before that annual report, when Robert Weil assigned the advertising agency Arbmans in Malmö to do the marketing for a hotel on the outskirts of the city. The agency didn’t seem too keen on the task, so they appointed the young art director Anders Wester for the project. His ideas were new and unexpected even then, and his branding of the hotel made it known well outside the city limits. That was the start of a lifelong cooperation and friendship between Anders Wester and Robert Weil. They often worked side by side in Wester’s studio late at night, Robert Weil being more involved than most people knew about. The annual reports were never isolated projects produced at the end of the accounting year, but a constant, ongoing process. And that’s the way Anders Wester worked. He didn’t turn on and turn off. He dug deep and kept digging.


Wester had started his advertising career at an early age. With no formal education he was still a teenager when he began working as an art director’s assistant. In the mid 1980s he was recruited to one of Sweden’s most esteemed advertising agencies and here he would come to work alongside some of his role models. Within a few years, Wester himself became one of the most respected art directors in the country, and his career became increasingly international. For a period of time he was the Chief Creative Officer at the agency Young & Rubicam in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. And even though New York and London was were he lived for several years, his cooperation with the Proventus group never ceased.


When Judiska Teatern (The Jewish Theatre) was established in 1995 by Robert Weil and theatre director Pia Forsgren, Anders Wester worked close with Forsgren to create its visual language and profile. The finished logo was a capital J, like that stamped in Jewish passports during World War II, combined with the star of David, and many found it startling and daring. But Anders Wester was adamant in his opinion that the theatre must reclaim the right to these symbols, and when he was determined, he usually got his way. His strong views and burning passion didn’t always make him easy to work with. If ever. His uncompromising pursuit of perfection and results also placed high demands on those who worked with him. But his demands on himself were just as high. Before creating a playbill or designing a poster for a play at Judiska Teatern, he would read the entire script in order to truly know it – an even tougher task than one might think, as he was a dyslectic.


“Even if we only produced one play at a time, Anders thought we should have a constant presence with posters on the municipality billboards for culture. The theatre would stay on everybody’s mind that way. Sometimes just with a photo from a play. But always there”, Pia Forsgren says. Wester and Forsgren’s cooperation was a close and continuous process. It was two worlds that met – advertising and culture – and something that Pia Forsgren describes as very stimulating. They didn’t always think alike or agree. There could be tough and challenging discussions, but it was never about prestige.


The playbills were often elaborate, but the one made for the world premiere of Marguerite Duras The dogs of Prague probably took the prize. It constituted a 225-page book about Duras and her work, with the dust cover designed as a folded poster with the play’s complete script. This was accompanied by a “photo album” with unique private photos of Marguerite Duras’ life, which Wester had been granted access to by Duras’ son, Jean Mascolo. “Many wanted access to these photos. But her son gained confidence in us and let Anders in”, Pia Forsgren remembers. Wester scanned all the photos on a portable scanner, an enormous undertaking, but quite characteristic of Anders Wester – no effort too big, not shortcuts allowed, the result the only thing that matters.


Nobody was surprised when Anders Wester was elected a member of the “The Platinum Academy” in 2009, an honor only bestowed to the best of the best in the advertising industry. Wester took the academy’s purpose very seriously: “to inspire and promote quality in Swedish advertising, design and communication”. Just as he had improved and developed alongside some of the greatest, Wester took it upon him to mentor several of our most talented creators in later generations. That was also a way for him to always reevaluate and improve upon his own work. But maybe the hardest judge on quality is time, and in the case of Anders Wester’s work together with Proventus, it has undoubtedly stood the test – just revisit and enjoy the annual report of 1982.