We love the bonkers, fun and beautiful world of Julian Glander

Goofy animator and illustrator Julian chats GIFs, his creative process and past works he’d rather forget.

Even if you don't know it, you’ve probably seen the work of GIF-y god Julian Glander – whether you spotted it looped on Twitter, glimpsed his “super cool summer GIFs for Starbucks” or have been cheered up by “happy stuff”, a viral series for Koodo mobile that we featured in our round-up of the best character artists from 2016’s Pictoplasma conference.

But what is the GIF connoisseur speaking at Pictoplasma about? “Secrets,” he tells me. “Secrets about my process, business secrets, and scrapped work that nobody's ever seen. Shhh!” At least I can safely tell you that this year’s Pictoplasma is about ‘character posture’ – and Julian should have plenty of fascinating stuff to say about his goofy shapes. 

For this year's graphic arts festival Pick Me Up (21 April to 2 May) Julian is displaying a host of short animations, 3D floam and lenticular postcards.

"I really wanted to bring my work into the real world in a way that made sense," he said. "Most of my work is 3 dimensional so lenticular prints just made sense, and they've been something I've been fascinated with since I was a kid. I'm really nervous about this because it's not a process I've experimented with before."

Just like the work he creates, Julian is indisputably, irresistibly goofy. A self-described “former baby, future ghost”, it’s no surprise that his website is fittingly offbeat - against an ever-changing neon, rainbow background are categories that start with animation and illustration but quickly descend (or ascend, if you share my point of view) into puking, burger and blobs

So, when I asked Julian to describe his style in five words, maybe I should have expected the answer “uhhh, ahhh, eeeee, oooo, pastel.” Read on for more fun, fascinating answers – which do get longer, I promise – and wonderful, oddball work.

Image: Triple Scoopin' for Snacks Quarterly [a rare illustration in the GIF-y world of Julian]

Mimi Launder: How do you find working with GIFS compared to still illustrations?

Julian Glander: “I think there are a couple of different ways of thinking about GIFs. To some people they are short movies, but to me they are long illustrations. Usually when I'm freeform making GIFs, animation is the last part of the process and I use it to accentuate or draw attention to different parts of the composition.”

Image: part of the series Happy Stuff for Koodo Mobile

ML: What is your creative process?

JG: “It starts with shapes - basically combining standard polygons like a baby playing with a set of wood blocks, but in the digital world. Once I ‘block out’ a composition, I add details, and then animation, and then colour is a final wash.

“I try not to get hung up on things like concepts, sketches, or problem-solving, as I'm more interested in getting into a zen state with it. Oh, and the software I use is Blender.”

Image: Catching up on content. Julian captions on his website that it is "the story of my life; maybe the story of all our lives."

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ML: Which of your works is your favourite?

JG: “Lately my favourites are these long GIFs that I've been posting to YouTube.

Image: part of the series Happy Stuff for Koodo Mobile

ML: And which of your works would you rather forget? 

JG: “I've been doing this since I was 15 so there is a LOT that I'd like to forget. When I started out, all of my illustrations were made from traced stock photos and they had really cheesy, Banksy-ish concepts. Here's an early one that's just straight-up clipart. So let's scrub all of those.”

Image: Frappucino for Starbucks

ML: How has your style developed since you started? 

JG: “I think there was a period of several years at the beginning where I was just wholesale copying the illustrators that I admired. It wasn't until I got into 3D software that I really felt like I was starting to find my own voice. Still ripping people off sometimes, still working on it!”

Image: dogmorphs.gif 

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ML: What inspires you?

JG: “Stuff for babies and young children. Toys, cartoons, candy. In my work, I am always trying to look at my boring adult life through that sort of foggy, sugary lens.”

Image: Cartoon Fight Cloud 

ML: What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without in your work?

JG: “This is a boring, lame, stock answer but... computer. My dear sweet computer is everything to me.”

Image: Frappucino for Starbucks

ML: In an ideal world, what would you want as your next project?

JG: “An animated series or a feature film. Fingers crossed!”

Image: the_wind.gif 

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ML: What music do you like to work to?

JG: “None, it totally ruins my concentration! But since I moved to NYC I bought an ambient noise machine to drown out the commotion. So there is usually a wave of pink noise washing over my studio.”

Image: part of the series Happy Stuff for Koodo Mobile

Julian doesn’t just do GIFs. He also does illustration (of which 20-Something Egg with Legs, Living in the Big City, Trying to Make It in a Vaguely Creative Field is one of my favourites), videos and short films such as a 1-second haircutting animation (pictured), and even games - the most recent being Lovely Weather We're Having, a bizarre game about absolutely nothing that has clearly done its job after a Reddit user commented "watched the trailer and I have no idea what the game is about". We're certainly intrigued.