Christmas is something different to us all. For some, it’s a sacred celebration of the literal birth of a religion. For others, it’s just a pagan, cookie-laden ritual to break up the monotony of winter. Leave it to a very special medium, the spastic animated GIF, to capture the multifaceted nature of the holiday better than just about anything else.
Curated by artist Ryan Todd and built by EnjoyThis, Christmas Gifs is a collection of original works by animators, illustrators, and directors. Now in its second year, Todd has assembled another hilariously diverse selection for 2013.
While each piece is obviously an animated GIF, the styles and sensibilities vary deeply—including everything from a Hallmark-approved freckled child making snow angels, to Santa gnawing at the neck tendons of a baby (a la "Saturn Devouring His Son"). And when you look at these pieces en masse, viewing 18 or so GIFs on the site at once, the effect is akin to the media deluge of A Clockwork Orange. You can’t possibly process so many ideas and images at once, so you let your brain swim in the feed and let the content shape your perception of Christmas as it will.
When I asked Todd what his secret was, to getting so many artists to create their works free for his site, he said the answer was two-fold: One, it’s an interesting idea that piques people’s interest. Two, Christmas GIFs are free from commercialism. There’s no money made off the site, which has a certain appeal in its own right. "If this was for a large corporate brand, I'd quote them a fee and send over my invoice once I'm done," Todd tells Co.Design. "But Christmas Gifs is run by and populated by individual practitioners or studios, and everyone knows it’s simply a fun and festive platform to create something new."
That said, with 160,000 views leading up to Christmas last year, the site has led to freelance work for a few of the artists involved. If you’d like to take part in Christmas Gifs, you can submit original designs to their site now. And if, like us, you’d just like to share the hard work of others, you can send any GIF just like an ecard for free.