Artist Greg Gunn drew 52 fantastical GIF-creatures every Monday for a year. Beginning with the bearded size-shifting Leshy and ending with the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, the "Mythical Mondays" series was an experiment in creativity, he says. "It was nice to sit down and let my mind wander." We spoke to Greg about his animated creatures and took a peek into his studio ...
How did you begin your Mythical Monday series?
The year was 2014. Los Angeles was cooler than normal for it being June and I had just finished a ham sandwich—wait, what were we talking about again??
Initially, I wanted to give myself a fun, weekly animation assignment. But I also wanted a clear goal to meet. So I decided to create a series of animated gifs that were tied together by a common theme. I was big into Magic The Gathering and Greek mythology as a kid, so the idea of drawing my version of a mythical creature every week made a lot of sense. And from that, Mythical Monday was born.
Where did you find your inspiration?
I first sought out to plan every single myth ahead of time. Before making the first one, I scoured Wikipedia and urban legend websites looking for creatures I thought would work well. I think I probably bookmarked 30 before starting the project.
My rules for picking a creature were that it 1. Had have a Wikipedia entry and 2. It couldn’t have been proven to actually exist. I think I only broke the rule once with the “reverse mermaid.” Why there’s no wiki for it, I have no idea.
You just completed the series last month! What's the story behind your final piece "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"?
I know! It was exciting/relieving/sad to see it come to an end. I went back and forth with several ideas about what myth to end on. Eventually, I settled on Death—what with it being the end of the series and all. And even though death isn’t a myth, the grim reaper is a pretty rad personification of it.
I let that idea brew for a bit. Then my good friend, Chuck BB, and I got to talking and he suggested taking it a step further and do The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (of which Death is an infamous member).
What do you like about the GIF format?
What’s not to love about the ubiquitous gif?! It can do and be anything. It’s like a cute, little cockroach—you can try to step on it, but it always seems to find a way to survive and ruin your apartment.
How is the creative process different from your other projects?
Mythical Mondays were the polar opposite of how I work on most projects. Which I really loved. Each week was the same: wake up and think to myself, “Dang, it’s Monday… I HAVEN’T THOUGHT OF A MYTH TO ANIMATE!@!#$!” After the initial panic subsided, it was nice to sit down and let my mind wander. There’s always an excuse not to do something, but I find that if you power through the struggle you will always come out the other side feeling good.
What are you working on next? Could we get a sneak peek?
I’m really excited about a big, top secret project that I can’t talk about!! I can say that it’s an animated short and that a studio known for mouse ears is involved. And that hopefully I will be able to share it next year.