What GIF best describes how you are currently feeling?
Why, this one, since it will apply regardless of whether I am sluggish or perky when this answer is posted.
When did you first start making GIFs? What was your first GIF?
The file creation date for this GIF is April 2008. I remember some graphics-savvy people showing me the animation capabilities of Photoshop. I made this to get the hang of doing a sequence by myself and saved it as a GIF because the format seemed practical. I put it up on my then-current website and didn’t think more about GIFs for a while.
In 2010 I started making more GIFs in preparation for a much-increased and strategic internet presence. I didn’t know about other GIF art at the time, but I’d seen the format in wide usage for memes and other crap. I thought of posting them as an effective segue into making little films. This turned into a long-ass segue due to the boom in GIF art that happened shortly after.
Where do you find inspiration?
Most of my work from the past several years is informed by a private mythology that I created as a way of giving some cohesion to the endless gushing of ideas. This helps me in many ways. In the Euxinova project, it consolidates into artificial histories involving fictional Balkan and Southeast Asian nations with their own cultures, ecosystems, animals, plants, tourist industries, etc.
But even the minor nuggets (y’know, random grotesque GIFs) are served by emanations from the grand scheme that modify raw concepts with secret archetypes and tropes and so help ratchet up the tangy flavor.
GIF above from Euxinova Project
What kind of a process do you go through to create your GIFs?
It’s a subset of the process used to make the images, which I developed on my own (no training). Everything is a photo-collage with distinct 20th c. antecedents (Heartfield, Ernst, Höch, etc.) — except that it’s digital, and the ability to control and synthesize each tiny element has greatly changed the possibilities for the medium. Collage no longer has to rely on bald juxtaposition. You might notice that I don’t just take a source picture or two and alter them in an obvious way. The new ideal (speaking just for myself) is that the source material be unrecognizable in the end product. So the object, now, is not to deconstruct extant images, but to build entirely new ones. That’s why, when I do go in reverse and deconstruct what I’ve made to lay bare the process (like GIF below), the result can be kind of fun.
Digitally stored groups of layers in the form of characters, furniture, backdrops, etc. can be reconfigured for different purposes, and obviously this points to animation. The collage procedure does impose severe limitations in terms of movement (an object seen from a new angle, such as a tilt of a head, must be an entirely new built image, assuming that is possible), but I don’t mind. Also, I prefer the step-frame animation method I employ to some smooth CGI process: the flickering and unnatural movement is actually more pleasing to me. Cut-out animation invokes the economy of insects.
Even limited to moving images, the list could go on too long for someone not in the mood for lists, and I can’t seem to summon that mood. Luis Buñuel is supreme to me: a prolonged absence of his brand of dry irony leads to unpleasant sensations in my viscera. As animators go, Władysław Starewicz is the one I’ve paid the most attention to.
I’ve befriended some fellow GIF artists and had fun collaborating with Dain Fagerholm. But as a GIF editor for Tumblr (still!) I should probably be impartial regarding the living.
What is your favorite GIF?
Currently it’s this piece I made for The Creator’s Project last summer:
Audience faves include:
What’s next? Any fun projects you are currently working on and can share with us?
1.) My joyous association with Frederator Studios continues with covers for the Adventure Time and Bravest Warriorscomic books, published by Boom! Studios in coming months — I believe the Bravest Warriors issue comes out first.
2.) I’m opening a web store (Big Cartel) initially selling various printed art in limited quantities.
3.) Short animated films. The main reason why I haven’t been focused enough on making shorts is limited computer muscle, coupled with my desire to animate in very high resolutions. The Frederator tags and similar projects were already taxing my (soon to be replaced) Mac at 1080p, but I want to make stuff in 4k. I can’t wait any longer though, so expect some very, very short actual films very soon, before I even upgrade my equipment.
Can’t get enough? Check out more GIF art from Colin Raff on Giphy.com…and if you have a Mac iOS 10.7 or higher be sure to download the screensaver!