The Netherlands-based animator Hannah Frogs’ eclectic style taps into our collective memories of gentle hues and images. Breathing life into her scenes and characters, these in turn recall a childhood nostalgia with a contemporary touch. Her inspirations and creative processes are as dreamy as her artworks – enter Hannah’s fantasy world with us

How would you describe the process of creating your artworks?

My process varies from time to time: I tend to doodle characters a lot, and over time it has become like a library of characters that I sometimes use in projects if they fit. Other times when drawing a character, they can be a departure point for a whole project idea, but I also tend to be inspired by existing stories, like the German folk tale Faust which has been adapted many times. From then onwards I like to think about the narrative and the form. Something that is important to my process is that I have some confidence in what the final work will look like because I am always a little scared when making something new, so I like to make enough experimentations and concept art until I get to a place where I am excited to continue working.

You work mainly with themes touching on feelings in connection with fairy tales or fantasy surroundings. How do your characters come alive? Do you have a major inspiration from childhood?

Since childhood, I remember always reading Donald Duck with my dad. It was the most fun thing, seeing him bring these characters to life. He even came up with his own fantastical stories that always had some connection to the real world, like a blackbird who flew up into the sky and ended up in a cloud that had a freezer in it, and when she opened the freezer, it suddenly started to snow from the cloud. I used to be very invested in these stories, and I never lost that sense of fulfilment from breathing life into characters. Another thing that I like about making characters is that you can explore different or stronger emotions than you would usually feel and/or express in real life.

Digging deeper into the emotional levels of your artworks, they seem very melancholic and romantic. Is it important to you that viewers get emotional when they see your work? And how do you put the emotions into your pieces in the way of story development and story flow?

With this question I realised that I don’t want to care about how viewers view my work, but actually I do, haha. I think the purpose of my work is to communicate an emotion that viewers can connect to – which is also a very intangible thing, but I find the moments when I look at art and it captivates me emotionally the most meaningful, so that’s what I’m trying to do as well. How I do that, I think can be quite intangible too, but if anything it’s important to be allowed to linger sometimes, on objects connected to a character or the character itself, and to show enough detail and expression in a character’s face. So for example in Nocturnal Thought Bus, the story is about the main character, but I think the shots that are just the moving curtains and growing flowers also say something about the story the main character is going through.

In the pieces we can also notice your attachment to nature and elements like fire or water. Is this a major connection in your work, or does it just appear naturally?

I find the natural world very beautiful. It lends itself well as a visual element but also as symbolism. There is also something about the connection of nature and the human-made that I find interesting. Nature usually only comes into contact with the human-made in a very controlled manner. If you lose that control, I think there must be something weird or unplanned going on. In general, I think humans losing control over nature when it is extreme is very scary, but for nature itself, it is very normal. I think I often put these elements into my work to express these different facets of nature because they are universal ways to express the extreme, or the comforting, etc.

How do you get inspired? Do you have any specific personal rituals or a place, film or artist that are a fundamental inspiration for you at this moment?

For some reason, I can’t really get “in the zone” without earbuds in; I have to listen to music, a podcast or an audiobook while working. Additionally, I really enjoy Tove Jansson’s work; the sensibility in her art and the kindness of her stories is both comforting and artistically very interesting. And then there is the animation Puparia by Shingo Tamagawa which has been one of my favourite animations since it came out. I come back to it very often.

Our current theme is “Full of Desire”. So I’d like to ask you what your dream goal is, or what you desire for yourself as an artist right now, and what would be your ultimate achievement?

My dream goal would be to be able to work on a bigger project (and finish it), like a short film or a comic book. For the ultimate achievement  – I have a lot of ideas for projects and collaborations with friends that I would like to achieve. I’m sure more ideas will come up, but I hope I’ll be able to do as much as I can.

Finally, are you currently preparing any new exhibition or project we can look forward to?

At the moment, I am working on a comic which will also be exhibited! It is still in very early stages, but I can say it will be future-themed with sci-fi elements.

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After graduating in design at Act Academy Minerva in 2020 and majoring in Illustration & Animation, Hannah Frogs (Hannah van der Weide) started working as a freelance illustrator and animator and is now based in Groningen, the Netherlands. At the moment, she enjoys working in watercolour, gouache and animating digitally. The themes that often appear in her work are fairy tales, fantasy, nature and the surreal. She enjoys art that is able to somehow connect fantasy or surreal environments with these human emotions we all feel. Creatives who influence her are writer Ursula K. Le Guin, artist Hilma Af Klint and animator Shingo Tamagawa.


Artwork / Hannah Frogs (Hannah van der Weide) @hannah.frogs

Interview /  Markéta Kosinová

Crystal Glass – Nocturnal Thought Bus (music video)

Written, recorded, produced and mixed by Marvin Andrä. Mastered by André Weisse. Video by Hannah Van Der Weide.

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