Animator Linn Fritz on industry sexism, anxiety and personal projects

Linn's latest animation for School of Motion – a website hub for learning motion graphics.

The Swedish animator and designer’s work may be light and witty, but she’s not afraid to talk about deeper industry issues.

Waves of bold colours, geometric shapes and intriguing characters – this is the work of Swedish animator and designer Linn Fritz.

Her minimalist approach paired with abstract body shapes and cheeky furry animals (yes llamas and cats) make for brilliant GIFs and short animated videos – her scenes look so fun we wish we could jump right into them.

But she’s not afraid to tackle the more serious topics of life, like dealing with sexism and her responsibility as a designer.

Linn now lives and works in London after spending time in Stockholm, Amsterdam and Sydney working in different studios. After graduating from a motion graphics degree in Sweden, and finishing an internship in Amsterdam, Linn took some time out before deciding she could work as a creative freelancer.

Linn describes her work as "1960s-1970s, with a modern touch", which has led her to work with clients including Facebook, KFC, Aperol Spritz for the Australian Open, not to mention personal projects reflecting her travels, struggle with anxiety and simply being a woman in the male-dominated industry of animation.

Although Linn’s had her fair share of sexist "jokes" and feeling alienated for being a female animator, she decided to do something about it. Teaming up with two other female animators in London, the trio created a Facebook community – Punanimation – and support system for other "kickass ladies discussing work".

Her most recent personal project, Girls, Girls, Girls, depicts a variety of geometric shapes which make up the physique of of different female characters. The simple nature of the series caught our eye, and the representation of bodies in all different shapes, colours and sizes is always refreshing. 

Linn openly shares about the struggles and delights of becoming a freelance animator and designer, sexism in the industry, her travels and how she makes brilliant art.

Miriam Harris: Tell me how you came to be a designer and animator.

Linn Fritz: "I studied motion graphics at Hyper Island in Sweden and I graduated a year later after a three-months Internship in Amsterdam, believing that I wasn’t good enough. So I moved back to my parents. But then I wa given a freelance opportunity and decided to stay in Amsterdam for a bit. That also made me realise that I could maybe work as a creative.

"Since then, I’ve lived in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Sydney and London working with a bunch of amazing, talented studios and people which I’m forever grateful for."

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MH: Tell us little bit about your project for Workplace Facebook (seen here).

LF: "I was contacted by Facebook in London a few years ago and decided to take on the Workplace project with the studio I was at back then - Cub Studio.

"When Facebook found out that I recently started freelancing they contacted me again and wanted me to rebrand everything. Which lead to the biggest project I’ve been part of so far, and I had the amazing opportunity to illustrate almost everything for Workplace by Facebook. It was a great learning experience and I was surrounded by super talented people and had a cool office to work in for a few weeks."

MH: What tools and software do you use to create your design and animations?

LF: "I use my good old sketchbook, Adobe Illustrator and After Effects."

MH: Where do you draw inspiration from?

LF: "I often work from home so I bounce a lot of ideas off my boyfriend, who's also a freelancer. I use the internet (a little too much), art books and a lot of people-watching from coffee shops in East London."

MH: Can you tell us a little bit about your Girls, Girls, Girls series. Where did the idea for this stem from?

LF: "It’s maybe not the funniest story but I recently moved back from Australia and took a few weeks off in the summer to do a personal project, and I couldn’t come up with anything. The weather was lovely and sunny in London, so you definitely didn’t need an umbrella (like you otherwise always do) so I illustrated a lady with a closed umbrella. After that I just continued to draw ladies in different situations for a few weeks.

"I almost never have a process behind my personal work - it’s basically doodles in my sketchbook that turns into an illustration or a character. But I guess that’s some kind of process."

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MH: Your female characters are presented in different sizes, shapes, identities and situations. Is diversity something you wanted to touch on?

LF: "As a designer I believe you have the opportunity to make a difference, and by illustrating bodies in all different shapes, colours and sizes can give some people a healthier body image, it would make me so happy. Everyone deserves to feel positive and confident about themselves."

MH: The series is similar to your Anxiety series (seen here). Is anxiety something you’ve personally struggled with?

LF: "I have struggled with anxiety for a couple of years and it’s definitely not easy. But something that makes it a bit easier to deal with, is the fact that it’s no longer seen as a taboo topic. Talking about it with your friends, making illustrations or movies or whatever, makes the whole thing easier, at least for me."

MH: Tell me about why you chose to set up Punanimation, and what the community facilitates.

LF: "When I moved to London I became really good friends with two amazing and supportive ladies, Bee Grandinetti and Hedvig Ahlberg. Both very active within the animation and design industry, which was a big topic during our pub nights.

"We wanted to get in touch with more women within the industry and create a safe environment for all of them, so we decided to create Punanimation - a community for all the ladies out there who thinks the animation industry is too much of a boys club.

"Today Punanimation is a Facebook group with over a 1,000 kickass ladies discussing work, getting support, sharing ideas, jobs and portfolios."

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MH: Have you experienced firsthand sexism in the world of animation?

LF: "I have experienced the wage gap, a few sexism “jokes”, not been taken seriously when I’ve presented ideas and been talked over. I even had an old colleague telling me that they were all acting weird around me cause they haven’t had a girl in the studio, ever.

"But, I have also experienced a lot of good things, a lot of amazing things. I have had the great opportunity to work with a bunch of supportive, kind and talented men over the years that I’ve learned so much from."

 MH: What advice do you have for aspiring female designers and animators?

LF: "I know it’s easier said than done but, stand up for yourself, be confident, put yourself and your work out there, support each other and be kind."

MH: And finally, what’s next on the cards for you?

LF: "I’m about to finish up the Workplace project with Facebook and after that I have a few other jobs lined up. But I’m hoping to take some time off in the winter to do some personal projects again."

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