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Artist Spotlight: Raven Keller

When did you first start making GIFs? What was the first GIF you made?

I started making GIFs earlier this year - my first GIF was the licking llama.
I first made a static illustration of the llama, then thought it would be fun to make the flat-looking llama move unexpectedly. Gotta get your kicks where you can. After that I did a whole series of GIF animals. Some of the birds move really subtly - I imagined that someone might scroll past one of the birds and think, “Did I just see that bird blink?!” The person would scroll back up and stare at the bird until in blinked again.

What kind of a process do you go through to create your art?

I import a photo or sketch into Photoshop and then basically trace the image with vector shapes. I save that static composition as a PNG then (tediously) manipulate the points and curves to build each frame. I save out stages of the manipulations as PNGs - these become my frames for the final GIF. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want the animation to look like but other times I just start moving the points and an idea comes along. Often I’ll reduce the risk of experimentation by saving out some stages as both PNGs and PSDs so that I can easily revert back to a PSD if the animation gets unsatisfactorily weird.

Why GIF art? What makes it more appealing than other mediums?

There’s a lot to like about GIFs - one thing in particular is that they’re excellent for visually (and sometimes audibly) communicating a concise idea. Another thing to like is that the world of GIFs is diverse - anything kinda goes.

Who are a few of your favorite GIF artists/or artists in general?

Moments of genius come to mind more easily. Not too long ago I saw a designer integrate GIFs into his blog post about an interaction design idea. The GIFs illustrated the interactions much better than static images would have.

What is your all-time favorite GIF?

I recently had a nice time looking at baby sloth GIFs - on Giphy!

Check out Raven Keller’s artist page on Giphy here.

Download a screensaver of Raven’s GIF art here.