Japan based artist Ryota Nishioka airbrushes elaborate cityscapes of imaginary buildings. His process matches those of animation background artists, tasked with creating a believable backdrop for subjects based in a fantasy world. Similarly, Nishioka renders his paintings with layer upon layer of acrylic paint and pencil work on paper. Each layer takes only a matter of minutes to complete, making the final piece even more extraordinary. In almost hyperrealistic form, he draws his favorite subject, “moving things”, like clouds, ripples of water and scattered leaves from inorganic trees.
Nancy Liang creates diorama-like collages out of hand-drawn elements on kraft paper. Her nearly monochromatic work features nocturnal scenes of small towns that seem to become enchanted at the stroke of midnight. Liang reworks her pieces digitally to create GIFs with subtle, animated elements. While some artists’ GIFs entrance viewers with their bold, flashing colors, Liang animates strategic details, like glittering stars or wispy smoke coming from a flame. Based in Sydney, Australia, Liang makes GIFs in her spare time and posts them on her Tumblr. By day, she is an award-winning commercial illustrator.
Orcas and wolves traverse the digital land and sea in TJ Fuller’s holographic-looking GIFs. Fuller is an artist who wears many hats: In addition to his personal work, he creates iPad apps for cats (seriously, games for your cat!) and is an animation director for Maker Studios. His personal work has a lo-fi aesthetic, like a DIY VHS recording where colors appeared pixelated. With his CMYK color palette, his pieces have a digital glow to them that contrasts with their nature-inspired subject matter.
Nicolas Fong creates GIFS and short animated films filled with peculiar characters and imaginative scenarios. In his work, psychedelic shapes morph into one another as dreamlike narratives unravel. In a recent video Fong created for the band BRNS’ song “Many Changes,” an abstract, underwater creature evolves into many different lifeforms. The video highlights the cyclical nature of life and the beauty of the natural world. In another video for Forever Pavot’s song “Green Nap,” smoke filling an 1800s-style opium den floats to the ceiling, revealing kaleidoscopic visuals and trippy patterns. Take a look at some of Fong’s work below and follow his Vimeo channel to see more of his films.
While GIFs have yet to find an established place in the art world, they’re fascinating because they have the potential to go beyond the frozen image in two dimensions. Texas artist Hayden Zezula, aka Zolloc, works as a designer and animator by day, but has an expansive portfolio of animated GIFs that will cause chills to creep down your spine. His latest series, titled “Oswra,” features a cast of mutated babies with pale gray skin. Their multiplying limbs move in geometric arrangements that are both hypnotizing and frightening. Take a look below.
Somewhere on the scale of lovable to repulsive lie Sam Lyon’s “Jelly Gummies,” a series of experimental digital illustrations and GIFs the tickle the senses. These 3D-looking creatures make you want to reach out and poke your computer screen to feel their squishy texture, only to quickly recoil at their intestine-like sliminess. The jolly blobs flop and wiggle in Lyon’s repetitive, animated GIFs. But the illustrator and designer puts them to another surprising use: clothing and textile designs. Many of the Jelly Gummies are featured in repeating patterns that he plans to make into fabrics, adding another dimension to his otherwise multi-sensory work.