Anna Hollinrake: ‘I spent a very wayward youth sitting in my bedroom drawing terrible anime’

Anna Hollinrake describes herself as a ‘perpetually cheerful weirdo’, and is one of BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brit’s for 2017. She’s also MCV’s Rising Star for February 2017. This interview is republished from our February issue.

How did you break into games?

I spent a very wayward youth sitting in my bedroom drawing terrible anime on my laptop, but at 16 I was playing Fable and realised that people actually made the illustrations – graphics didn’t appear fully formed. I ended up studying game art at De Montfort University.

I attempted freelance; I went a bit mad in the process. Then I got a bunch of terrible jobs that made me very motivated to not be working in them anymore. I started as a graduate artist at Paw Print Games up in Chester three years ago.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

De nitely Lola and the Giant, which is the Daydream VR game that I worked on at Climax Studios. I was really lucky because everything just fell into place and my art style was already the kind of thing they wanted before I even arrived there.

I could take something from the initial concept all the way through to a finished product. being able to have that level of ownership over an aesthetic and an entire level or game is so addictive. Seeing it come together and making people well up at the credits, that is my proudest achievement.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

I think it’s really finding my artistic voice and being honest to that. It’s so easy to play into the idea of what people expect from you.

For a very long time, I thought I wanted to be a concept artist that does realistic concepts and can create all these very gritty, dark worlds. I can drown in Dishonored concept art. I love it so much, but that’s not me. As much as I want to create all this moody stu , that’s not who I am. I am hyperactive and very colourful, and that’s the kind of thing that I like and make.

The minute I started drawing castles in the sky and witches and brooms and strange vibrant worlds, it felt right with me and it sang to me. Finally accepting that maybe I’m not the moody and complicated concept artist that I like to think I am, has been a challenge.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Seeing everything fall into place. When you’ve been working for months on one aspect of a game, when you are able to step back and take a look at what you have created and finally start piecing it together, there’s this incredible moment where all of the work that other people have done has been checked in and suddenly you’re playing a game. It’s a tangible thing. When everything clicks into place like that, it’s the best feeling.

What’s your big ambition in games?

I really want to continue to put as much of myself as possible into projects and make stuff that makes people feel joyful or positive. I would love to create my own IP or ideas and have them be diverse and act as touchstones that emotionally impact people and make them feel less alone, feel represented and make them cry in a positive way.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into games and art?

Paying attention to your health is really fundamental. I’m fairly sure that 90 per cent of game developers have anxiety. People should get better at stretching their hands. Everyone has RSI. We need to stop glamourising overwork as a badge of honour and making all-nighters seem cool. I remember being at university and standing in the corridor and bragging about how little sleep I got but it didn’t make me a better artist, it made me terrible at learning anything because I was malnutritioned and sleep-deprived. It’s just a bad time. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself.

If there’s a rising star at your company, contact Jake Tucker at, and we might feature them in the future. 

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