Chris Piascik fell into the world of illustration by accident, he tells GIPHY. While working as a designer, he began posting a daily drawing on his website. Now five years and almost 2000 drawings later, he's forged a career as an independent illustrator. We spoke about how he began experimenting with GIFs to bring his wild lettering and pop culture caricatures to life:
We read on your Twitter profile that you accidentally became an illustrator!
That’s true, it was all an accident. I never even considered the fact that I could make a living as an illustrator. I went to school for graphic design and worked as a designer for about 5 years. In the midst of that (late 2007) I started posting a drawing on my website everyday. After about a year of that I started getting commissioned work based on those dailies and by 2010 I was working full-time as an independent illustrator. I’m still rocking the dailies and creeping up on my 2000th. I plan on publishing a book featuring 1000-2000 as a follow up to “1000 Days of Drawing” a book I made featuring the first 1000.
How did you get into lettering?
I’ve always loved drawing words. When I was a kid I would take apart the album packing in my home and recreate my own versions. My favorite part was usually drawing the band’s logo. A family member mentioned that what I was doing was called “Graphic Design.” It blew my mind that, that could be someone’s job. My parents both worked at the post office, so I assumed having a job couldn’t be something so fun. Studying graphic design only reinforced my obsession with type.
When did you start experimenting with animating them?
When I learned about the timeline window in Photoshop that allows you to make simple animated GIFs it was only a matter of time before I tried some versions with words. The first one I did was morphing one word into another. Each word had the same amount of letters so it was pretty easy to just go frame by frame redrawing it a little different each time. I really liked the way it turned out, so I made more!
How do you approach creating a GIF versus creating an illustration that doesn't move?
When I am doing a GIF it is usually more intuitive than an actual illustration. I can’t really sketch out the GIF the way I would a static composition. I start with an idea and slowly morph it into something else.
What gets you inspired?
Lots of things! My friends, old signs, old motorcycles, punk, zines, cartoons, music, BMX and skateboarding culture, etc.
What are the movies, books, websites or artists that influence your work?
I think that everything I absorb has some sort of influence on my work. The early album covers and merchandise from the Misfits probably have influenced me more than anything else in my life. Cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead, and The Simpsons played a big part as well.
Do you plan out your pieces before you begin?
For the most part I start with some sketches. Though some pieces I allow to be intuitive, and that is fun as well.
What's the story behind this piece?
That piece started as a doodle that I did. I thought the characters had some fun expressions and figured I’d try my hand at animating them. It was just a fun experiment.
Which GIF was your favorite to make?
I honestly don’t know. This is still new for me, so I am having a blast experimenting and seeing how they turn out. It’s still a surprise for me when I actually see them move. I generally don’t preview them during the process. I enjoy the big reveal at the end.
What are you working on now?
I am working on an assortment of client projects and starting to get organized for my second book of daily drawings.
The artist in his studio: