These animated characters for Pictoplasma 2018 won't stop staring at you

Pictoplasma conference asked artists to create short, animated GIFs of characters that stare down the viewer and "claim their right to exist". Here are some of the best.

Pictoplasma 2018, – one of the best conferences and festivals for character design and art – is set to begin next month in Berlin. Now in its 14th year, the conference will investigate how character design challenges our understanding of what makes a face, a face.

Following this theme, one of the calls for entries before the conference focused on creating character faces. 'Character Stare Down' was a challenge for artists, illustrators, designers and animators to create short, animated GIFs that portray proud, strong characters as they maintain eye contact and "claim their right to exist".

Here's Helena Kampen's entry. 

Helena Kampen

Helena is a 2D and stop motion animator based in London. After studying graphic design in Brazil, Helena has lived in Sao Paulo, Auckland and Wisconsin before London. She can direct and produce short and commercial stop motion animation.

After sifting through hundreds of entries, a jury has decided on the winning GIFs which will be exhibited at the Pictoplasma Berlin Festival in a curated group show. The GIFs will be projected against a wall, so attendees can stare down the different character designs – a "stare down battle in real life". Additionally, three winners will be announced to receive a free Pictoplasma Berlin festival and conference pass, granting access to all workshops, screenings and more. It’s the first year Pictoplasma has held this call for entry.

Artists were asked to create a character that looks directly into the eyes of the viewer and keeps eye contact, something which (now that we think about) isn’t often seen in a GIF. Apart from the fixed gaze, everything else was left up to artist, such as distracting actions and occasional blinking.

We take a look at six of the winning GIFs and the artists behind them. This is Jasper Van Gestel's entry. 

Jasper Van Gestel

Jasper is an animator and illustrator with a studio in Belgium. Take a look at more of his humorous line drawings and GIFs here.

Pictoplasma 2018 Berlin runs from May 2 to 6. The first speakers have been announced, including James Curran, prolific political illustrator Edel Rodriguez, Sophia Jannson (niece of Tove Jansson, illustrator and writer of the Moomins), Kevin Gemin, Jim Stoten and more. Find out more about who will be speaking this year here.


Carolina Martz, aka Chabaski, is a freelance illustrator, 2D artist and graphic design artist from Mexico. She uses bold colours, geometric shapes and patterns to create whimsical characters. Here is her entry for Pictoplasma's Character Stare Down. 

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Tony Babel

Tony Babel is a multidisciplinary designer, animator and illustrator from Israel. 

1000 Eyes

1000 Eyes is an artist based in the UK whose work involves CG characters, 3D shapes and bold patterns. 


Christina Bublyk is an illustrator and animator from Ukraine. Check out her delightful GIFs on Dribbble.

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