How Giphy Plans to Transform Animated GIFs Into An Artform

When Jace Cooke and Alex Chung founded Giphy, they simply wanted a convenient platform for sharing and searching GIFs. But now, Giphy, which launched in Febrary, is reaching beyond its search engine origins and aims to serve as a tool to empower artists and animators.

The first round of features to roll out on Giphy over the coming month are built to serve GIF makers rather than consumers. Artists will have dedicated URLs, making their work easily accessible for fans. When embedded on another blog, each GIF will include a coded block that shows the creator’s name. That’s right, no more stumbling onto a great GIF on Tumblr and wondering who created it. “I want Giphy to be what Vimeo is for videographers or Soundcloud is for musicians,” co-founder Jace Cooke told Cartoon Brew.

Cooke invited several notable GIF makers to launch artist pages, including  animator Frank Macchia (see GIF below) and wildly popular Tumblr GIF artist Matthew DiVito (aka mr. div). The next step will be providing GIF makers with uncapped uploads—Tumblr, for example, has a maximum upload of 1 MB per GIF. Eventually, artists will have personalized dashboard with analytics for tracking where their GIFs are being shared. “I want to lend more credence to GIFs, give them a wider audience and open up the possibility of monetization for artists,” adds Cooke.

For Cooke there are two major questions going forward: For GIF makers, how can Giphy adapt to best serve their needs? For everyone else, how can Giphy encourage more people to try creating GIFs? Cook is turning to the animation community to find answers to these questions, particularly the latter. Many creative people who work in CGI are interested in GIFs, but they haven’t yet given it a shot. “There’s a learning curve,” Cooke says . “They understand the value and they’re excited about it, but they’re a little apprehensive.” Ultimately, Cooke hopes to see more animators embrace GIFs, which he describes as “animated trading cards.”

Even though there are many GIF repositories and search engines like GIFSoup, Tumblr, and Google’s new animated image search, Giphy is the first coherent attempt to elevate GIFs as an artform. “There is something really powerful about an art that is halfway between a photo and a video,” says Cooke. “GIFs are a legit medium, a form of expression that’s only going to grow.”


  • Jen Hurler

    I can definitely get behind the link-back to the original artist, as many are certainly deserving of it. I’m surprised they don’t try to roll out a service that simplifies gif-making for users too.

    Initially, I wondered if this would even do well, but services like Vine prove you can never quite tell.

  • http://twitter.com/spitandspite abel salazar

    This blog seems to be really pushing GIFs. Look, if you’re all GIF, that’s cool, I’m personally not GIF but it’s cool if you are… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Uh, so yeah, I think Vine is significantly different and much better in terms of mediums for conveying the creators overall vision. And as soon as I heard it I was positive it’d be a hit. 6 second of madness w/ sound and “editing”, come on. What a great idea and no where near GIFs. Gifs are neat but they’re essentially throwaways like doritos, snickers; nothin’ worth pondering over. Sorry, but ask the guys who create it (not the dudes trying to make a buck off it) how they see it? Sure most will agree.

    If you’re arguing that they’re artistic, yea, so’s the way that lady adds an espresso shot to my coffee every morning with her right pinky arched upward only at that moment for some reason. We can artistically validate anything nowadays. I watched some 14yr old gay kid explain his day on youtube the other day. I don’t know how i got there but there I was and it was kind of hilarious. So essentially, a pretty nice artistic outlet for that guy. Everything is artistic or can be called artistic in the right context/relativity.

    I don’t get the push on this site about this GIF thing… what is that intrigues you so much about it Amid? Advertisers? (sounding aggressive here but seriously intrigued)

    anyways, I didn’t know that gif search engine thing existed so that’s a positive, thx for the heads up.

    • superbiasedman

      What about vine makes it closer to art than gifs are?

      • the Gee

        I thought Vine is about people using their own video. Am I wrong on that?
        The thing about Animated GIFs (well, beside the fact that the format beats out other image formats which allow for sequencing.) is that aren’t most A GIFs based on existing video clips?

        The people who make GIFs (the artists) are mostly remixing existing stuff. I’ll never confused a DJ with a musician unless they DJ can and does play instruments, too.

  • Elana Pritchard

    Here’s my GIF:
    (hope GIFs work on this thing)
    http://www.elanapritchard.com/2013/04/baby-elephant-is-gif.html

    • Elana Pritchard

      and, it seems like they don’t

  • Shmorky

    I’ve been making GIFs ever since I found out you could make them. A really great GIF loops seamlessly from start to finish and has a certain rhythm to it. When someone says “I saw this GIF while listening to [song] and it synced up!” you know you have done well.

  • LovinLife

    I’ll be honest. The main reason why I clicked this article was because Cardcaptor Sakura was in the picture. Well played Cartoon Brew.