Oyster Profile: FashGif
We interview Greta Larkins, the woman behind one of our Favourite Tumblrs of All Time.
One of our favourite pieces of internet brilliance this year has been FashGif — the Australian GIFmaster who rules Tumblr's fashion realm with her artful animations. Some are blink-and-you'll-miss-it subtle, some are flashing in hypercolour and acid-induced trippy, but all are brimming with wit and make you wish that all JPEGs moved. She's been commissioned by bigwigs like Calvin Klein, Kenzo, The Huffington Post, and Oyster — she animated this year's Paris and New York Fashion Weeks for us, and helped celebrate the birthday of Alexa Chung. Her "real" name is Greta, and we decided to get to know her a little better before she herself shrinks down to two pixels tall and jumps into the internet once and for all, à la Mike Teavee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Ingrid Kesa: Let's take a trip down memory lane... tell us about the very first GIF you ever made.
Greta Larkins: It was a kind of strange GIF of a friend standing in a field and a stick floated into frame and he caught it. It didn't take too long to make as I already had some Photoshop experience, but I remember being so excited about it. Like, maybe unhealthily excited about it?! Sadly that GIF has been lost in the depths of my inbox somewhere but the second GIF I ever made was my first one for FashGif. I started making them just under two years ago.
So how has your artistic GIF practice expanded since then?
Vastly! Sometimes I look back at some of my earlier GIF work and I can see so many mistakes [laughs]. For months I didn't realise Tumblr had GIF size restrictions so a lot of my earlier ones had too many frames and didn't move in the dashboard. I now test them religiously — no point posting a GIF if it appears as a still image. My Photoshop skills have also expanded which, in turn, means I can experiment with more extreme ideas and concepts. If I know I'm about to embark on two hours of Photoshop work I need to be pretty convinced the completed GIF will have a good impact. It's a matter of balancing the effort versus the result. If you're new to Photoshop, Google is your friend. Ask it questions.
You must be a bit of a JPEG hoarder. Are you obsessed with grabbing images from the internet? Are you anal about your desktop and computer filing system?
You guys are living in my brain! I'm, like, JPEG hoarder 101. I'm mainly obsessed with hi-res images, I just love them; no point saving a tiny thumbnail. I'm currently collecting anything and everything to do with Frida Kahlo. So 'Internet' of me. Any unusual or striking image, I grab. Tumblr is great because you can 'like' things and it stores your likes, so this has definitely reduced my need to drag and drop. I try to tidy my desktop weekly, but I have a scary folder called 'SORT SORT SORT' that, yes, I need to sort. Nick Drake (not the singer) is the master of wicked pop-culture-must-save-to-desktop images.
On average, how long does it take you to bang a GIF up?
Usually about 45 minutes if it's fairly juicy but I can do them in under five if the concept isn't too loco. I'd say three hours is the longest I've spent on one image. One thing I chant to myself when I'm working on something complex is, "forest through the trees." Basically this is a reminder to zoom out and step away from the image. Even if you leave something for just five or ten minutes, grab a drink, scratch your head, stretch your legs, when you come back to it you can see the "forest through the trees" and begin working on it in a new light. Or give the idea up! When you're zoomed in on an image, manipulating the pixels, you easily forget the bigger picture (literally) and can alter something too much. It's like how Coco Chanel says to take one thing off — sometimes one pixel can make the difference to an image looking right.
Who are your three favourite designers right now and why?
I've been a bit of a loopy Christopher Kane fan for a while now. Mind you, when the rumours were swirling that he was heading to Balenciaga I wasn't super pumped. I mean I was excited, but it didn't feel like the perfect fit. I have this bizarre fantasy that he'll take over at Chanel [laughs]. But obviously Karl will live forever so let us never speak of this again. Anyway, he just does interesting clothes. I'm always left grinning after scrolling through one of his collections.
Karen Walker is probably the designer I have the most of in my wardrobe. Her clothes just fit well and she's been doing stunning prints since long before prints were a thing. I have a body like those women in old-master paintings with cherubs flying around their heads (though I'm about a foot shorter) so I like to wear clothes that offer me a bit of coverage and shape. Karen does this well.
And Prada. Is that an obvious answer? I once had a dream that Miuccia let me choose myself an outfit from their sample room and I picked this jacket from Fall 2012. Basically the best dream my brain will ever construct.
What about models?
Confession: sometimes I make a GIF not because I love the outfit but because I love the model. Sicko. I'm going to answer this question in terms of Spring 2013 because there are so many models and so many I love for different reasons so I've changed the question parameters, apologies.
Let's start with Antonina Vasylchenko I mean look at her face. I'm also really enamoured by Kristin Liljegren but as far as I'm aware she only walked one show (Balenciaga) this season. Hopefully she'll be opening and closing shows like a mad woman for Fall 2013. Kate Upton — I am obsessed with her and I have no idea why. On paper she's just that babe at your high school who's married by 23 and kind of painful but then you see her high fashion shoots and it just works?! I nearly cried when she wasn't cast in the Victoria's Secret show.
How old are you?
I'm 27 and I have a grey streak already and kind of moody skin. Wow, remind me not to put this in an online dating profile.
Besides being a GIF Genius, what else do you do with yourself? Are you arty otherwise?
I recently made a light-up unicorn head beacon for a music festival so I have my moments. I'd say I have arty qualities but I would never consider myself an artist. I do a bit of work in trend forecasting so I'm definitely about visuals. I wish I could play the piano.
Who else's internet skills do you admire?
I'm a big fan of WHTEBKGRND, I love any site with a consistent aesthetic, a strong theme. Monster Hub is another favourite, some very clever GIFs are happening on that site. Ubicouture creates some pretty striking images with the fashion/art mash up concept but Jesus Swimming will always be the best thing on the Internet ever.
Finish these sentences:
The internet rules because... Wikipedia. I am a junkie.
But it sort of sucks because... discovering stuff on the Internet isn't quite as cool as discovering stuff IRL. Go outside.
Introduction: Emily Royal
Interview: Ingrid Kesa
All GIFs by FashGif