Who doesn’t enjoy GIFs? They’re super fun, bright, bouncy, occasionally terrifying and always horribly, horribly (wonderfully, wonderfully?) addictive.
As well as being a great way to watch Nikki Minaj, cats or the timeless classic of a man hilariously falling over - all on endless loop - GIFs are also a flexible art form, offering engagement more easily than a photo and immediacy better than a video.
Wonderfully, they are also humble, fun and accessible to everyone; as you'll see from the success of these artists, they are even creeping into the commissions of renowned publications such as The New Yorker. Oh, and they are incredibly addictive.
So, we’ve rounded up the best artists from the bonkers bunch who are behind the internet's favourite art form - from the most internet-y of internet-y GIFs bursting with colour, cats and food, to the dark and even macabre side of the GIF world.
GIF: by Rafael Verona
NYC-based creative Carl Burton makes atmospheric, surreal and monochromatic GIFs that are totally bizarre, but oddly calming.
Carl's limited use of colour is always striking and easily transports you to whatever strange world he's depicting.
Another GIF by Carl.
From this funny, clever self-portrait to pandas falling down a slide (I can see your attention has perked; go to the next slide),animator and illustrator Chris Phillip's GIFs are so consistently brilliantly, fun and quirky, I could have selected ones for this article blind.
From explainer videos to product demos, games to apps, Chris has impressed many clients, audiences and panda-lovers.
Cindy is as internet-friendly as you get: food, cats and more cats. She's even been commissioned by Tumblr, Google and the GIF-y god of GIFs, Giphy itself. She's fun, happy, and always makes you happy too.
This is Cindy's wonderful Google Doodle for 2015 New Year's Day (she also created one for 2014 New Year's Eve). On her Behance, she describes the work as "by far the biggest project I have ever done, so it's definitely worth all the hard work".
Another GIF by Cindy.
We try to stay far away from fan art, as there's loads and loads is crap. But we couldn't resist Eran's charming, creative, fresh GIFs of Game of Thrones season 6.
We soon found out that the rest of Eran's work is brilliant too.
We spotted French illustrator Guillaume Kurkdijan in our feature on 12 amazing new illustrators - and he hasn't disappointed, creating clean, irresistible looking GIFs that always tell a simple, but funny or clever story. And his tiny characters are full of life.
Guillaume has a knack for boiling down complex concepts into a simple motion that makes you go 'Ah! That's clever!' and also you wish you came up with it. Sigh.
Another GIF by Guillaume.
Animation director James tells us on his Dribbble that he likes making GIFs. We can tell: brimming with clever ideas, always engaging and surprising and popping with upbeat beauty, James' GIFs show his knowledge and ease with this new, fun form.
James has successfully combined two of many people's greatest loves: doughnuts and waterparks. And, somehow, made them even better.
Baltimore-based artist Joe Maccarone's macabre, weird GIFs are creepy - and yet strangely adorable. I want to both cuddle his characters and run away from them as fast as possible.
Another GIF by Joe.
Julian has a dedicated cult following - which comes as no surprise at all. His work is bonkers, fun and always pretty. It's also worth checking out his website for a neon, screaming world you'll never want to leave, which counts 'puking', 'burger' and 'blobs' as valid categories for a website menu.
Another GIF by Julian.
Lucy Vigrass of Peepshow – not that Peepshow, but a collective - works across animation, illustration and installation. The London-based illustrator’s GIFs are fun, bright and engaging. Lucy regularly collaborates with animator Pete Mallor – one of her Peepshow colleagues – and we have that partnership to thanks for this clip (shown) of their animated film created for real estate business igloo.
Lucy and Pete’s other GIFs are created just for fun.
Another GIF by Lucy.
It was pretty painful whittling down London-based studio Made by Radio’s creations into this list. They really are all wonderful, so check out Made by Radio’s Behance where they have a handy project called ‘GIFS’.
We love the incredibly fast, in-your-face movement of this GIF, which makes you feel like you’re moving too.
Made by Radio creates GIFS so complex they have to be watched again and again to be understood. And then again and again to enjoy. And perhaps again. And again?
Graphic designer, illustrator and animator Rafael Verona produces truly gorgeous GIFs, which can cover an incredible range of emotions - from fun and crazy, to sombre.
Another GIF by Rafael.
Rebecca has a very different style to many of her GIF-y counterparts. Her work is beautiful, subtle, and looks like it's wriggled its way out of a storybook. Pictured is a beautiful, atmospheric image created for the short story Anhedonia, Here I Come for The New Yorker
"When I read this short story, I knew this was a good fit," said Rebecca about the GIF (shown) on her Tumblr. "The tale of Bobby is a wandering, quiet, kinda dark window into the life of a loner. Bobby lives in a nowhere town in Ireland, and we wanted to create the scene where he spies his pot dealer, the schoolgirl Becky, from across the dirty parking lot.
"For reference I picked a few random towns on the Google map of Ireland, and creeped around on Street View. My favorite bit of this is the little cigarette butt in the corner."
The movement in Rebecca's GIFs is sometimes hard to notice, but always worth spending some time to find for the GIF to come slowly alive.
"For this article about teenage girls and social media, I was given the opportunity to illustrate something very familiar," said Rebecca on her Tumblr about this GIF (shown). "Part of the article tells about a group of teenagers hanging out at the Boca Raton mall in South Florida, near where I grew up. I know the aesthetic of the sun-bleached teenagers in this area all too well, and I enjoyed painting them as though from memory.
"The article itself painted teenage girls as too connected to their online “brand”, no longer concerned with introspection and daydreaming. But I lived there, and I was definitely the introspective sort, and I think plenty of girls still are. So my picture shows one girl off on her own, considering her reflection, lost in thought."
"I was commissioned by SDEJ to create a gif of whatever I wanted with the loose theme of “creation changes the world”, for the company to use for their new website," said Rebecca on her Tumblr of the GIF (shown). "I interpreted this to mean that how we express, display and share our ideas helps shape our reality–which is also why I love illustration.
"I had wanted to make a .gif of a potter’s wheel for a while so I jumped at the chance! For research, I watched tons of wheel throwing videos in Youtube."
From the quality and vibrancy of their GIFs, you can tell the good people of multiaward-winning Russian studio TOONDA do animation - and just animation - for a living. And you can tell their fun too (look at that backwards low-five (or low-ten? Is that the technical term?) Er, let's call it a backward hand slap).
No wonder TOONDRA are great at what they do. They even have a Wikipedia page (an accolade I am always perhaps ovely impressed by).
What better way to end this article than zoooming in and out on a screaming, large-tonselled cat?