People who have had an impact on me Part 1: Early creativity

Hugo Froes
4 min readJan 3


As we start this new year (2023), I saw someone sharing some people that had an impact on them and I thought it would be interesting to do a similar series for this newsletter.

I think it’s important to acknowledge those that have had some impact on our lives and I realised I haven’t done that enough.

Writing this first part, I expect I’ll have at least 3 parts, but that might change as I start uncovering all the incredible people I’ve met over the years.

Part 1: Early creativity
Part 2: Growing in design
Part 3: Operating in product

But as a starter, I need to share a special acknowledgement of 5 people who sit above all others:

  1. My mother for doing her best to raise me right and always helping me find my path.
  2. Both my Grandparents for supporting my mother and I through difficult times and always being there.
  3. My wife for being the spark that took me to new levels and who will always be in my corner to both be my critic and proud of everything I do.
  4. My son, for showing me a new world and always giving me new perspectives. I am marvelled by the type of person he is becoming.

Now on to the people that impacted my initial career goals and many of the choices I made.

Early Creativity

When I started my journey into design, it was in art school and strangely much of my early influence is not related to great designers as many might expect.

Being the very early ages of the internet and living in South Africa, we didn’t have all the access to design history as we do today. I almost had no idea the design industry existed.

  1. Indiana Jones — No, not Harrison Ford, but yes his character Indiana Jones for making history and ancient civilisations interesting. For convincing me I wanted to be an archeologist until I understood that they didn’t have adventures like Indy.
  2. Jan Vermaak — My Design teacher at NSA (National School of Art) in South Africa for both believing in me and also challenging me when I didn’t do my best work.
  3. Boris Vallejo — For being one of my first influences in the world of fantasy art and creating magical work that I used as reference for many years when creating fantasy realms.
  4. Julie Bell — Similar to Boris Vallejo (Who is her husband), Julie showed me how we could use a paint brush to create incredible metallic art. I was marvelled.
  5. Frank Frazetta — Strangely, despite being known than Boris or Julie, it took me a bit longer to discover Frank Frazetta, but when I did… I mean, he’s a legend, plain and simple.
  6. Simon Bisley — The first time I picked up a 2000AD edition that had a Slaine story painted by Simon Bisley, I was awestruck. It was dark, strong and rough. It was incredible and I remember copying his artwork as I practiced throughout art school.
  7. Jim Lee — Today Jim Lee is one of the top brass at DC Comics, but I remember when I first saw the work Jim was doing with comic characters. So much detail and strong lines. His batman artwork is still one of my favourites to this day.
  8. Todd McFarlane — for creating a character like Spawn that showed us a grittier hero done in a grittier art style than most of what was being done. (I’d add Marc Silvestri and Greg Capullo for adding to the Spawn legacy started by Todd)
  9. Rob Liefield — I didn’t know it until many years later, but I collected a few comics in the 90s that had been drawn by Rob and I just loved his dynamic lines and the movement of his artwork. It wasn’t perfect, but it drew me in and I loved it.
  10. Bart Sears — Again, in the 90s, I was collecting the Justice League comics (All of them) and at one stage, the characters drawings started being quite buff and powerful. Again, not always the best portrayal of the characters, but still had an impact and made me look at the pages in another way. Many years later, I found out it was thanks to Bart Sears and even got to chat with him about it.
  11. Joe Madureira — I was first introduced to Joe during the big Marvel event Age of Apocalypse and I just love the way he drew the characters. Years later, when he created Battlechasers, I was hooked as a fan. I was so sorry to see him leave comics, but of course, wish him all the success.
  12. Terry Pratchett — What can one say about Terry Pratchett? The man was simply incredible in his balance of comedy and making comments on actual real world problems in the middle of the fantasy world he created. He was direct and just brilliant. I miss having new Discworld books to read since he passed away.

As you can see from the list, my initial influences were mostly from the world of fantasy art and comic books. I couldn’t name a single comic writer of the time, yet new all the comic artists and to this day, I sometimes buy a graphic novel or books solely based on the artwork.

Looking back, it’s seems even stranger that I might be in my current career path considering that my start was so focused on the visuals.

Originally published at on January 3, 2023.



Hugo Froes

// Leading Product Operations at OLX Motors EU // Helping to make better products — Co-founder of @uxdiscuss with @whitingx