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Have yourself a merry little GIF-mas

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Who doesn’t love a good GIF? The short, looping, moving images are like the digital format equivalent of candy: not particularly substantial, but unquestionably delightful. Another unquestionably delightful thing, so long as nobody force-feeds you fruitcake or makes you sit next to your drunk uncle Karl: festive Christmas celebrations.

So it was only logical that someone would think to double down on delightfulness and combine GIFs and Christmas, which is exactly what British illustrator Ryan Todd did when he created ChristmasGIFs, a collection of inventive and irreverent Christmas-themed GIFs. It may be the only place on the Internet you can see a googly-eyed rendering of Macauley Culkin tonguing a brussel sprout (just… go to the site).

For Todd, who started the project in 2012, GIFs are the perfect format for capturing the Christmas spirit. “I've always been a sucker for a good animated GIF and loved how easy it is to make one,” he explains. “I wanted to use the simple file format as a means to enable artists, animators and directors to create a piece of animated art, whatever their experience.”

ChristmasGIFs is fun to look at, but Todd created it as an educational opportunity for artists as well as a fun digital treat for everyone. “The aim of the project was twofold: to create a space for professional animators and directors to produce something personal, experimentation or just plain fun, and for illustrators and artists who may not have created anything animated before to take their first step into the world of moving image.” Todd specifically chose GIFs because they’re accessible for amateurs animators as well as experts, and they’re easy to share. Since his goal is allowing emerging artists a chance to test their skills, the collection accepts submissions. Design studio EnjoyThis stitches the submissions together into an beautiful Web display.

Animator Daniel Murtha contributed one of the most visually-arresting entries with a hypnotic flicker, made using a Nashika N8000, an unusual camera that takes four simultaneous images. Murtha described his process: “I went to High Park Zoo and took photos of the reindeers, and then walked around Toronto taking pictures of Christmas lights. I put all of this into Photoshop and layered them up to make the final GIF. There are about a dozen separate scenes layered together in there.”

This is exactly the type of crowd-sourcing Todd wanted the site to creating, calling it a major part of the project’s appeal. “I love the intrinsic humour of it and the ease with which visitors can share gifs they like with friends or send them as e-cards,” he says.


Todd doesn’t have any other holiday themed GIF collections in the works, but here’s hoping the artist will assemble similar digital collages in the future. I’d love to see what this coterie of artists could concoct for Valentine’s Day.

Photo via Flickr