Part 7 in our Creator Spotlight Series
Dan Dawley’s Gfycat account, though it only contains a few GIFs, is remarkable for its quality. His animations are minimal, stylized, with seamlessly looping movements.
Dawley is half of the creative content studio Swell.tv and a director at Eastward.com. His GIFs are part of his professional arsenal. “We live in such a fast-paced society. You don’t get more than a few seconds with anybody. To make an impression you need to be really fast. Vine was, what, seven seconds? That kind of set the trend, in a way,” he says. “Make the content really quick, get it done, and be out with it. Ever since then I think we’ve just gotten faster and faster. That’s why I got started with GIFs: they’re quick and efficient.” For Dawley, his Gfycat account serves as a kind of professional portfolio.
I asked him what professional purpose the GIF above served. It’s my favorite of his, with the simple palette and shapes that shift and, in doing so, transform meaning. Dawley tells me it’s for Port of Mokha, a company that imports Yemeni coffee to the US. The images in the GIF symbolize Yemen by its distinct architectural style and the export of coffee by a ship. I’m impressed with the ideas Dawley is able to convey with such economy of style. Clearly clients have been impressed as well — Swell.tv has done work for major brands such as GE, the Washington DC Tourism Board, BP, Facebook, and more.
And Dawley says, in turn, Gfycat’s high image quality allows him to showcase that style to potential clients. “When people talk about the Swell.tv website, they usually single out the Dailies portion [where Gfycat is used]. They LOVE it, in capital letters,” he says. “I think that it adds a lot. It engages people who are taking a look at the site.” Dawley says that GIFs serve an important business development function for his marketing firm. It shows prospective clients “the kind of animation and visual quality that they can expect. With conventional GIFs, the quality just isn’t there.”
I asked Dawley about which GIF is his favorite. “Man, that’s like trying to choose your favorite child,” he says, laughing. Ultimately, though, his favorite is the “Jupiter Rising” GIF shown above. “That one was really well received,” says Dawley.