Warning: If you’re sensitive to vivid and fast moving objects, look away now. If not, get ready to feast your eyes. Not so long ago Shaun Hill was enlisted by Lauren von Gogh and Robyn Cook to create a GIF-based website for their eccentric and constantly evolving art institute, Sober & Lonely. With no other requirements other than to make ample use of the Graphics Interchange Format, he went bananas – quite literally, as you’ll see. We had a quick chat with Shaun to find out more about the process behind this eye-popping project.
Did S&L come to you with a brief for the website? What was it?
Yip, the brief was to create a new GIF-based website for Soberandlonely.org
Were they quite involved in the process, or were you largely given free creative reign and left to your own devices?
Although the brief was pretty open, the website still needed to contain certain information and content so my process started with the basic keywords and page text content that S&L supplied me with. From this I developed the ideas for each GIF. Other than the supplied keywords and page information, S&L gave me creative freedom, although I did keep them updated along the process and sent each GIF as I made them.
How long did it take you to create all of the GIFs? Which were the most challenging and/or memorable to produce?
I’m not sure exactly how long it took, but I spent about 2 months working on the entire website. Most of the GIFs were planned but once I had started working on one idea, others would develop from the process. For example, the banana/vienna washing machine GIF was made from a bowl I was using for rubbish while I was busy making the other GIFs.
Had you experimented much with GIFs before this project? What are your thoughts on this rapidly emerging art form?
Yip, kinda. I made a GIF-based website for my zine, Bat Butt, which S&L saw and then asked me to work on their site. (You can check out the Bat Butt site here: www.batbutt78.wix.com/eurovision)
The whole point of the website is that it’s a bit of a maze or a treasure hunt. What did you consider in terms of navigation or the user experience when designing the layout?
The site was purposely designed this way so that the user would be forced to explore and interact with all the GIFs, but there is also a navigation menu at the bottom of each page to make the site a bit less insane to figure out. The homepage acts as a large navigation menu with GIF buttons linked to each page, as well as a bunch of hidden bonus level pages.
Were there any practical challenges to getting the site to function the way you imagined it?
Yeah I had a few hiccups with building the website, but I had used Wix in the past so I knew about all the limitations. Otherwise it was just experimenting and figuring out solutions along the way.
What were your biggest learnings from this project?
I think my biggest learning for this project was letting the process take control of the direction, as your planning always changes.
Visit Shaun’s own website for more of his work, and scroll through some of the glorious GIFs created for Sober & Lonely (and a couple of process pics) below.