“My career parallels that of the GIF,” says illustrator and animator Robin Davey. “Unbeloved for many years, plugging away, facing obsolescence only to be rejuvenated by emerging platforms and applications.” Davey was speaking at the opening of Loop, an exhibition of animated GIFs staged by ad agency JWT London in September. Around the agency’s reception, stills of GIFs from a variety of artists who have risen to the limitations of the medium were on show, framed as artworks. Thanks to a tie-in with augmented reality app Blippar, visitors could bring each image to life by viewing it through their smartphone.
The show was organised by JWT creative Yoni Alter, who invited four of the featured artists to speak at the opening. Alongside Davey, Matthew Powell and Matt Lucas travelled down from the North West while James Curran made the shorter journey from Soho. So what makes a great GIF? “Start with something small and don’t overcomplicate things,” advises Powell. Perennial favourites on Tumblr, the key GIF distribution channel, are fast food, superheroes and sex – or combinations of all three. Curran advises sticking to no more than two characters at a time while Lucas points out that, although Cinema 4D and Blender are typically used to create GIFs, great results can be obtained by just using Photoshop. All four revealed that GIF-making is very much a subsidiary activity, performed in spare time for no more reward than the ‘likes’ and ‘reblogs’ that are Tumblr’s means of approval.
There is an online gallery of work featured in Loop at jwtgifgallery.tumblr.com
All the images above can be brought to life as animated GIFs using the Blippar app. Download the app to your smartphone, open it up, and fill the screen with each image.