The wacked-out GIFs of Dax Norman

Self-referencing and psychedelics: get inside the mind of the trippy Texas animator extraordinaire

Out of his humble garage-studio in Texas, 33 year-old longhorn native Dax Norman creates slippery, tripped-out characters and the psychedelic landscapes in which they reside, thrive and lose their minds. It may have subtle flavours of The Ren & Stimpy Show, but Norman usually pulls inspiration from his earlier works. Rarely does he create a totally new piece from scratch; he prefers a symbiotic cycle, reappropriating his own work in a neverending pursuit of perfection. His paintings, GIFs and animations evoke heady hallucinogenic trips, dripping Dali-esque deserts and oozing fluoro slime fests from 1980s kid’s shows. Drawing from sources as varied as Van Gogh, Max Ernst and early MTV animations, Norman has created short films for the Comedy Channel’s Adult Swim network and is currently working on his first full-length feature film.


"I can’t go a day without working on something. I’m definitely obsessive. Everything I take in day to day inspires me in some sort of way, the things I hear and see, the people I talk to, all without necessarily knowing what it is I’m even looking for. I work on quite a few different things.  Everyday I do one of the animated gifs and usually I do a 2D one as well. For the 3D pieces I’ll decide on what piece I’m gonna work with – usually from my previous paintings which might have been sitting there for a couple years. I look for an idea to come from them and make it fit. In terms of animation, I like having a broad set of tools that I can draw from and use too."


"I like to improvise a lot. Sometimes I get an idea from a painting or drawing. It could be just a line or shape. It’s like jazz music, like improvisation. Then comes the computer where I do the texturing and the whole 3D process. I’ll put it in a different way that will aesthetically make it feel different. I’ll look at something and kind of ‘hear’ it or feel it, sort of like a synesthesia quality, mixing up all the different senses. If it’s for a movie or an animated GIF, I’ll play with the looping a lot to try and create a rhythm. I like the idea of taking something which is kind of high-tech, then degrading it a whole lot to give it a really low-fi look, somehow, reverse engineering everything."


"Regarding hallucinogenic drugs, I had mushrooms a long time ago, just once when I was younger. It had an effect on what I did thereafter and somehow the art ties into that, but most of my work comes from dreaming, lucid dreams and out of body experiences. There’s compressed spacial things going on with all these overlapping shapes and existences in my work. If we look into physics there’s a lot mentioned about space and multiple realities existing at the same time, even at the same place. I think when you bring yourself questions, somehow the answers end up available to you. I’m trying to search for answers, but I don’t even really know what the questions are."