Nicopanda GIF riot – Fashgif

Nicola Formichetti's GIF countdown goes out with a bang, thanks to an explosive animation from Fashgif's Greta Larkins

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As part of Nicola's Dazed takeover, we invited about five innovative GIF designers - recommended by Nicola himself - to redesign the iconic panda illustration at the heart of his new concept fashion line Nicopanda. We've already had contributions from GIF makers German Lavrovskiy, Mr-GIF, and Akihiko Taniguchi, and now we have work from FashGif.

Started by Greta Larkins, the site FashGif creates GIFs of moving models, in often comic ways, to present all the latest catwalk collections. We asked the self-taught GIF-er a few questions below...

Tell me about the panda GIF you made.  

This is actually the first time I've ever made one of those zooming, eternally looping GIFs. The Nicopanda image lent itself perfectly to that style, so I had good fun experimenting and playing with the animation until it was smooth and consistent. Then I mixed up the colours of the exploding eye for fun. 

Tell me about your practice and style.

The majority of my GIFs are made from starting with a still image and creating layers that ultimately become the moving elements. A lot of what I do is rebuilding the background of an image; so if I move a models arm I need to recreate what would be behind that arm. If I can execute this cleanly it helps with the overall illusion and makes the GIF more real.  

What do you do when you’re not making GIFs?

I work for a company that wholesales jewellery and I spend most of my day on Photoshop re-colouring products (say, making a red scarf green or turning a silver necklace into rose gold) and trend forecasting. That's where my interest in fashion began - but I'm scarily obsessed with jewellery for someone who's surrounded by a lot of it. There's about 100 pieces of jewellery on my desk right now! I'm also learning ballroom dancing and I'm a Tumblr junkie.

How did you start making GIFs?

I always thought you needed some magic program to make them but when I discovered you could produce them in Photoshop I decided to give it a go. I learnt just by exploring Google and forums. It's fundamentally quite simple, the complexity begins when you're ideas get more ambitious or if you want it to look very neat. You need a lot of patience and a steady hand.

What’s your all time favourite GIF and GIF designer?

I'd say that WHTEBKGRND and IWDRM are neck and neck for that title. Though technically IWDRM is making Cinemagraphs. And picking a favourite Gif are you insane?! I probably Tweet "Best Gif ever!" once a week but this is a good place to start if you're new to them.

Recent months have seen a return of the GIF as an item of popular discourse and funny thing to drop into an email. What do you put this down to?

They're instantaneous. And the repetition can really push a message. Nothing beats a perfectly placed reaction GIF either. I always joke with my friends that I haven't seen an episode of Ellen in ages but thanks to my Tumblr dashboard I see the best moments as GIF-sets. A GiIF, some subtitles; you get the gist very quickly without hitting play on a clunky video.

Where do you think the art of the GIF maker is going?

Well at the moment - up! But that's not to say this craze will last forever. That said, they're becoming more and more commonplace so maybe the GIF revival is going to stick around. Advertising companies are catching on now and I think there's a lot of potential to produce clever ideas and execute some stunning visuals. The focus should be on quality over quantity. You can't underestimate the value of a perfectly produced GIF; they can really capture peoples imaginations.

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