Hannah Jacobs on creating animations with a human contact

London-based director Hannah Jacobs specializes in 2D animation and illustration. Her work is diverse – she has worked on a variety of topics on assignments for Vox, Selfridges, The Barbican, and The New York Times, from eclipses to parenting – but if there's one thing that runs through everything it a human touch. While her work is digitally created, her skilful use of color and texture gives her an unmistakable handmade aesthetic.

Jacobs & # 39; animations are the result of a careful process: "I work in 2D single image animations, which means that every second of the animation contains 12 individual illustrations – so that's pretty labor intensive," she explains. The process begins with sketching ideas by hand before designing individual frames, which are then colored and animated in Photoshop.

While there are faster and easier ways to animate, Jacobs can use a wide range of brushes when working in Photoshop and ensure that each frame feels handmade. "That is really important to me. During my studies I worked exclusively on paper and I liked it very much – I always said that I would never work digitally. In a commercial environment it is of course not feasible to do 5,000 sheets of paper work and scan them in or wait for the paint to dry, but I really wanted to translate this kind of tactile, human approach into the digital world as much as possible, ”she adds.

At school, Jacobs said she was obsessed with comics: “I always drew and loved the asterisk and obelisk. I think the whole world (of comics) is less than a million miles from animation in terms of a narrative told through visuals. I think I naturally developed an interest in animation from there, ”she explains. She also loved the Simpsons and was convinced that she would grow up as an animator on the show. She studied illustration at the university before enrolling in the Royal College of Art MA animation course.

Her work is full of imaginative details and she often combines a narrative approach with more abstract elements. "I think on the whole I am drawn to quite emotional issues in my work. I am quite attentive – I will notice rather small things in my everyday life – and these are often the starting point for me, so I try to take those moments use it and put it in the spotlight a little bit or enlarge it and think of a little background story or narrative behind it, "she explains." That's usually how my ideas start, and that tends to flow into my commercial work. "

In 2019, she signed with the production company Strange Beast and split her time between working at home and Strange Beast's London studio. “I have a really good balance between the space where I can just get into the zone on my own and then make contacts and exchange ideas and get feedback (from other creative people). I worked all alone in a home studio for years and it wasn't for me – I think it's really important to be able to hop things around with people and I've learned so much from it. “She adds.

One of a series of animations that Hannah Jacobs created for the Museum of Happiness

When it comes to jobs, Jacobs says she is drawn to projects that are emotional and that allow her to tell a story. Her work includes music videos, online instructions, short films and editorial illustrations – from a series of animations depicting the recovery stories of the patients for the Mayo Clinic, through animated meditation instructions for the mattress brand Casper to a short film by Tim Siebles & # 39; Poem First accompanies kiss for TED's educational platform TED-Ed.

While developing a distinctive and recognizable style, Jacobs also tries to make sure that every project she works on feels different from the last one. She strives to advance her practice and regularly works on self-initiated projects to develop new ideas and techniques – something that she believes has led to more interesting and diverse customer orders.

“(Working on personal projects) takes all the pressure off of having to fulfill an order or being overseen by a customer – it's more creative, I think, I don't have to answer anyone but myself – and I think that's the time where these little inspiration nuggets can end up, which I can then incorporate into another commercial job. I hope that I will continue to develop my way of working and not just end up in one place, ”she adds.

She has also worked on collaborative projects with other directors, collaborated with Anna Ginsberg to create a colorful film about sustainability for Selfridges, and made a music video for Dinosaur Love with Ginsberg, Wang and a team of animators – a song by The three-year-old daughter of musician Tom Rosenthal, Fenn. Rosenthal called Jacobs in February after the song went viral online and asked her to make a music video in just 24 hours – a challenge she tackled with the help of Wang, Ginsberg, and a team of animators. "In the end, about 20 people did something here and there – it was absolutely crazy, but everyone was great and it was strangely satisfying to do so," she says.

Frame by frame animation can be a slow and tedious task, but for Jacobs the end result is worth the time and effort. "It's an intense process, but incredibly rewarding to see that everything comes together. I still think it's magical no matter how many projects I do," she adds.

She is currently working on her first short film, due to be completed later this year, and is also interested in further developing her illustration work. "I love making editorial illustrations because it is a completely different process for me and sometimes it is very satisfying to draw just one picture. So I would like to do a little more – maybe a mural or something on a larger scale . " I would also like to take my work off the screen and into a physical space or something more tactile like print or a graphic novel. "

hellohannahjacobs.com; @hannahjacobs_animates; Read more about Jacob's work for the Museum of Happiness here. New Talent is part of Inspire, a partnership with Facebook and Instagram to highlight outstanding creative work on the platforms