23 June 2011

Samantha Harvey

Samantha Harvey, 1988, UK | GIFfer since January 2011 | Loops: 2-30 frames | ∼500Kb

Can you tell us something about your background?
I'm from Bath in the UK and grew up there, and actually used to do a lot of painting and illustration, but I guess I discovered photography on the art foundation course I did after A-Levels and carried on from there. Then I went to Kingston University in London and studied Graphic Design and Photography which I graduated from last year, I now live in central London working for a few different people whilst also trying to continue my own creative work.

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When was your first contact with this loopable world?
Not very long ago actually, I think the first time I ever made one was maybe around January this year. I'd started noticing gifs and thinking they were pretty cool, and then I decided to create a Tumblr for a place I could put new experimental work on and it gradually became more and more devoted to gifs and also Tumblr is a great place to find new gifs because they are very popular and there are constantly new ones popping up.

What is your goal making and designing gifs?
I'm not really sure to be honest! I just really enjoy making them and think I might have become a bit obsessed with them in the last couple of months, I guess I would like to start making more using my own imagery where I can plan them out, that would be fun! But so far I feel like I've just been really experimenting with them and seeing what I can do with them, so far I'm discovering that their potential is quite vast as you can literally imagine anything and then create it!

Do you consider your gifs part of your artwork, or you use them in other way?
I think they will definitely become part of my artwork when they are more developed, they're quite fun at the moment but I think when I have more advanced ideas and understand them more I will be able to create some that I will consider more as my artwork. Also though I think they are a great alternative way to show work, for example I think the SHOWstudio gifs work really well as I think they are a great medium to show films, especially fashion films because of how instant they are and I think they also bring still photos alive a bit.

Your animated gifs are from pictures found on the internet, videos and magazines... you said some of them are using your own photographs, so do you take pictures just to make a gif or would you use a photograph you had previously taken?
Sometimes I go out intentionally to make gifs with my photos so when I take the photo I will stand there for ages with my camera glued to my eye and take lots of photos, which is quite funny, I need to start using a tripod really. And other times I will look back through my photos and see a particular photo on its own that I think of something I could do to it. This is a good example of one because I wanted it to make the building look like it had a heartbeat:

You have a tumblr dedicated lately to this kind of crazy and fashionable loops, is there any reason you make them in b&w? On your website there are not any of your previous photographic work in b&w.
Yes I don't think I had done much black and white work before I started making gifs, there are a few my Flickr page. But there are a few reasons why I've been making most of them in black and white (there are some in colour because I haven't wanted to alter them in any way) but one of the main reasons is because when you upload gifs to Tumblr they can only be a maximum of 500 pixels width and 500 kb in size, so they are very low quality and I found the more elaborate ones in colour looked really horrible because of the dithered effect you get with gifs, and they looked a lot better in black and white. The main other reason is because when I use other people's imagery and make them into gifs I wanted them all to have a bit more uniformity when you scroll down my blog, so it felt a bit more like they were more in a series and not all completely random and unrelated.

How do you work exactly? You have an idea and then search the picture you want for the editing and animating it, or you find any picture and then you work on that image?
A bit of both really, sometimes I'll think of an image that I think would be cool to make into a gif but a lot of the time it's work I come across and I think that I have to make a gif out of it. Also I make a lot of gifs from films, I spend quite a lot of time browsing through vimeo, I think gifs are a very effective way to show films as you get a better sense of what they are about rather than just showing them in a series of still images. Also sometimes though I won't think of anything until I have the photo in front of me, I think I like to make mini stories going on in still photos that just continue in this loop forever and ever.

Which software do you use to make/move/animate/edit/export them?
I use photoshop for all of the gifs I make, which is why I like making them so much I think. As because my work if generally photographically orientated I understand photoshop and therefore can be quite creative within it.

What are the file sizes (MB?) Is the the size important for you when uploaded to the internet?
On Tumblr they can only be 500 KB maximum and 500 pixels in width otherwise they won't animate, but on my blog samantha-harvey.blogspot.com and other websites there isn't a limit so they can get up to quite large file sizes if they have a lot of frames. 

You usually work on short loops, how many frames do you usually use?
It can vary from 2 frames to about 30 I think is the maximum amount of frames I have used so far for one gif, but I'm sure they will get more elaborate as I make more!

Are your gifs inspired from anything or anyone?
They are inspired from a lot of things, anything I come across really that sparks off an idea. I've started making funny sketches of random ideas that pop into my head, and I'm always browsing online for gifs or anything really! I can be inspired from just a photo I have found or maybe an exhibition I've gone to see or something else completely unrelated to art.

Show us one of your favourite gifs.

I think this has to be one of my favourite so far, I had to stand watching the guards for aaaages, and then when they started marching I had to stand very still and take lots and lots of photos, I think they thought I was a bit weird, one of the guards stuck his tongue out at me at the end too! But it was quite fun when I got home and could make them do this funny continuous dancing march forever and ever!

What are you working on at the moment?
I've started getting a few commissions from artists to make gifs for their websites, I think they're really great to show the process behind someone's work. For example I've recently made one for an artist who wanted one showing his drawing process from the first few sketches to the finished piece, so I blended them together and now he wants me to do some more. Also I have started planning out a few more gifs I want to make with my own photographs involving people, but I want just continue experimenting with them really and seeing what I can do with them, as I really think they will only ever be as good as your imagination. They are a constant and exciting challenge!

NOTE: Samantha will always source the image on her Tumblr, you can clicking on the gifs to know the original content. So if you want to know any of the original content of the gifs featured on Triangulation Blog please find the links on her Tumblr.