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Hanne Berkaak

Hanne Berkaak

WeAnimate 2024-04-12 | wam#0036

Oslo-based freelancer Hanne Berkaak (b. 1980) has worked with such illustrious clients as Gyldendal, Red Cross, and Jamie Oliver. A graduate from the Royal College of Arts and holding a BA in animation from Parson’s School of Design New York, Berkaak got her foot in the door at Passion Pictures in London, where she worked as a runner when her work came to the attention of director Peter Candeland, who subsequently got her on the team creating concept art for music video game The Beatles: Rock Band (2009).

More jobs followed, making character designs and concept art for Passion Pictures, which ultimately led to Berkaak co-directing the music video for ‘Id Engager’ by American indie pop band ‘of Montreal’ with Marc Reisbig. Framed by rounded corners reminiscent of an old-fashioned TV-set, it combines hand-drawn animation and surrealistic characters. The video starts with a throwback to the old practice of self-figuration, where the animator’s hands are shown drawing the character before it comes to life. Once it does, it takes center stage and constantly transforms. This is ever so often intercut with cut-out cardboard elements. ‘Id Engager’ works like its title, the constant shifting of the figure feeling like an illustration of the subconscious as it is prodded and moved by the music.

Berkaak cites the ‘Id Engager’ video, one of her first major professional projects, as one of the most rewarding experiences of her career so far. Of course, being a huge fan of of Montreal did not hurt matters, nor did the fact that the project came with a huge degree of creative freedom where she was allowed to run wild.
Having since relocated to Oslo, Norway, Berkaak is now represented by byHands and works as a freelance animator and illustrator, favoring bold colors and lines in her distinctive work. Her portfolio includes a vast and varied array of clients, ranging from NRK and Aftenposten to Save the Children. Her directorial efforts include projects for Playstation, Channel 4, the children’s series Yo Gabba Gabba! and the short film The Marathon Diary about a marathon race in wintry Lapland.

Berkaak describes sketching and storyboarding as her favorite parts of the creative process. The endless potential of the blank piece of paper and the quickness with which ideas can be realized is part of the explanation. Inspiration is drawn from everything from books, comics, and films, to more unconventional sources such as royal families’ incestuous histories.
She is currently working on her upcoming short film The Hair Parlor at Frydenlund. Based on real events, it balances the tragic with absurdity, telling the story of how Berkaak’s grandmother and her sisters started at hair parlor in Narvik during World War 2.


Text: Niels Harpøth

Meet the Artist

Hanne Berkaak

Nationality: Norwegian

Profession: Animator

Education: Royal College of Art


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