GIF Self-Portrait Background Knowledge

Today I finished my GIF self-portrait and soon I will publish it on my blog.

Before I do this, I wanted to share my experiences of the process with you.

I have never created a self-portrait before, which was as well thought-out as my GIF self-portrait. I worked on it for weeks always coming up with new ideas on how it could look like. As I already said in a previous blog post, I didn’t just want to portrait my outward appearance but rather go into detail and show little bits of my identity and characteristics.

I didn’t want my self-portrait to be a further developed form of the usual selfies that people post on Facebook or Instagram. Instead I wanted to step back from the traditional meaning of the term self-portrait which makes me think of either old oil paintings of artists or photos that are taken by someone with their phone’s front camera.

When I saw this GIF by illustrator and animator Max Litvinov I came up with the idea of creating a layered portrait of myself. Each layer was meant to show different aspects of my identity.

During my research, I found more GIFs that that worked with layers but almost all of these had only one image that would appear over and over again.

Another aspect that inspired me to create a GIF that showed different identity aspects were my English studies in Germany. I was really fascinated by a course called Sociolinguistics, which was all about how language and signs influence human interaction and human life in a certain social context. One thing I remember very well was how often our teacher mentioned that identity is not one specific thing but a layered construct of countless aspects. It is also a concept that constantly changes.

This is how my final After Effects project looks like. It looks less complicated than it actually was. You can’t see all the movement keyframes of the elements, because otherwise it would have never fit on the screen shot.

I am really looking forward to sharing my GIF self-portrait with you soon. I cover so many different aspects of my identity, such as my love for nature and photography, my family or my abilities as a media arts practitioner.


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