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Behind The Rise Of This 16-Year-Old’s GIF Art Collective

We talk to Philip Intile, a rising star in the GIF world and the 16-year-old founder of the GIF Artist Collective.

GIF art has come a long way in the 28 years it’s been in existence. Lately, punchline GIFs have made way for more thoughtful animated works, and the art world has taken notice–the prestigious Saatchi gallery launched a GIF prize and major brands like Ralph Lauren and Juicy Couture are commissioning GIF artists for their digital campaigns. Inevitably, artist collectives have also sprung up to help build a community of artists as their medium hits the mainstream.

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Perhaps the best-known of these collectives is the aptly-named GIF Artist Collective, run by 16-year-old Philip Intile, who creates GIF artwork under the pseudonym Pi-Slices. Intile started a Tumblr site for the collective in November, and it’s since attracted artists from all over the internet, amassed a group of dedicated of followers and been featured on Tumblr’s staff blog.

The collective is two-fold: there’s the public collective in the form of the Tumblr page, which names a new theme each month that could be anything from “Nature” to “Error.” Intile curates the submissions, taking pains to mostly re-blog artists so that viewers can find their site.

Then there’s a private, invite-only collective of artists that Intile has formed to foster discussions and collaborations behind-the-scenes. Both have the same goal in mind: to encourage and connect artists who are working in a medium just starting to seep its way into the mainstream, moneyed art world. As GIF art continues to gain popularity–and GIF artists transition into the commercial realm–Intile is creating a support system of artists and illustrators.

We talked to Philip Intile about his own art career, why he created the GIF Artist Collective, and who his favorite digital artists are right now.

Could you tell me a bit about the idea behind the GIF Artist Collective and how it came to fruition?
The idea behind the Collective is fairly simple. I want GIF artists to have a place to easily communicate and interact with other GIF artists, while also being able to challenge themselves and show off their work to a fairly large community. The way it came to fruition was actually very convenient. For the past year or so, I’ve curated art for a blog on Tumblr called Cross Connect. I’ve featured more than 100 artists in my time curating on that blog so far so I had the contact information of a large amount of the GIF artists on Tumblr. One day I just decided to create a private, invite only blog for GIF artists called the GIF Artist Collective, and I invited all the GIF artists I had featured on Cross Connect. As of now, the private collective has grown to a group of almost 80 artists. The public collective was a branch of that private collective. The GIF Artists Collective was made for the monthly themes.

What was your goal in starting the collective?
The ultimate goal of the collective is to make GIF art more accessible to the general community of Tumblr. As an artist, I like having credit for the work I do, so I encourage artists to post their GIF for the monthly challenge on their own blog instead of directly submitting it to me. That way they get all the credit for their work, and if people want to follow them or check out more of their work, it’s much easier. I not only want to help grow the community of GIF artists on Tumblr, but help make sure artists get credit for the work that they do.

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Pi-Slices

How did you begin making GIFs?
I initially began making GIFs because I had lots of free time and nothing better to do. I wanted to improve myself creatively, and making GIFs seemed like a good way to do that. After sporadically uploading them to my personal blog, I decided to just create a new blog and go all in. I started making a GIF every single day on April 5th, 2014, and I haven’t missed a day since then.

How have you seen GIF art evolve in the last year?
For the most part, the way I’ve seen GIF art evolve in the last year is mostly through quantity. As GIF art grows in popularity, more artists are joining Tumblr to start creating and sharing their work. Looking a little farther back than a year, a very notable change was Tumblr increasing their GIF file size limit from 1 MB to 2 MB, which makes a huge difference in the quality you can have in your GIFs.

How do you predict it will continue to evolve?
It will continue to evolve as more artists start creating and sharing their work. More people means more ideas which means even more cool art for people to look at. Perhaps one day Tumblr will even increase their file size limit again.

What other emerging GIF artists should we be watching out for?
There are a few GIF artists I’ve seen lately who make incredible GIFs. Four of the most notable in my opinion would be mildvibe, Dodo, Gareth Fowler, and Ding & Ding. There are lots more, but those are a few of my favorites at the moment.

I actually did a collaborative GIF with mildvibe which can be found here.

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About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.

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