What Makes a GIF into Something Great

There’s no cut and dry answer to this question. Infact, typing  ‘What makes a GIF into something great’ into Google gives almost no search results, only instructional guides about how to make GIFs.

We’ve already discussed Scorpion Daggers’ great work. This has led me to writing something on what constitutes a great GIF.

They visibly skip: An obviously skipping GIF has a certain charm and whimsy. It’s a fallible and tangible thing that can have a jolting and obvious beginning and end.



They are shortform storytelling: A talented gif artist knows how to make the most of this short loop and execute an irresistible story or vignette.

They are shareable and unpretentious: Great GIFs like a form of digital graffiti. They are slightly nefarious, itinerant and unruly. An image with such ubiquitous properties, found all over IMGUR and TUMBLR looks weird inside of an art gallery – that’s a good thing.


They do what all good art does: They allow you to see the world anew, to see art anew and to see yourself anew.

They don’t take themselves too seriously: Some GIFs are subtle, highly stylised and feature models as they would appear in magazines, but with tiny whisps of hair blowing. That seems a waste of the medium though.

They are funny: The repetitive nature of gifs mean that they bode well for groundhog day scenarios of people getting punched in the face ad infinitum. Along with other weird, random and completely insane things happening over and over again. When gifs are amusing then they are really really good.


 [The GIFs] that I like to look at tell a story. I’m not so much talking about the video GIFs you see from movies or TV shows. I’m talking about GIFs put together in a way where there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. Mind you, I also really love hypnotic ones as well. In a sense, I like GIFs that are made with them being GIFs in mind. Not so much something that somebody captured and converted, but there are some hilarious one’s of those as well –  Scorpion Dagger

Work reproduced with permission from Scorpion Dagger

See more Scorpion Dagger

What have I left out? Do you think that GIFs can be serious and still be great?

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

5 thoughts on “What Makes a GIF into Something Great

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