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SXSW Interactive 2013

The Economy of the GIF

From the oogachaka baby to Nyan Cat, the graphics interchange format, better known as the GIF, has come a long way since the days of floppy discs. The modern-day GIF was introduced to the world 25 years ago by Steve Wilhite at CompuServe as a more versatile alternative to the JPEG. Despite its adaptability and ease of use, the GIF became a pariah in the 1990s, due to its overuse on Web-hosting sites like GeoCities. Since then, everything has changed. Today the GIF is a format fit for museums and the lingua franca for people eager to express themselves with more than just an emoticon. GIFs have also gone mobile, thanks to programs like 3Frames, Cinemagram, and GIFShop. But more importantly, GIFs have opened up new avenues for artists and with it the potential to earn a living.

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  1. How do you create a GIF?
  2. What sort of programs do you use?
  3. Why are GIFs making a comeback now?
  4. Is there one social media platform that helped spark the resurgence?
  5. How can you turn GIF-making into a career?


  • Mark Portillo, Artist, Self-employed
  • Jimmy Repeat, Artist/producer, MTV
  • Lacey Micallef, Artist, None
  • Christopher Price, Editorial Director , Tumblr


Fernando Alfonso III, Reporter, Daily Dot

Meta Information:

  • Tags: art
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Art and Inspiration
  • Level: Beginning
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