Part 4 in our Creator Spotlight Series
It may surprise you to know that the artist known as SooperDave isn’t an animator by trade. He works in a warehouse, and began making his signature doodles — expressive faces superimposed onto moving inanimate objects — as a fun after-work hobby.
That hobby has morphed into an Internet following, millions of views, and hundreds of cute animations on Gfycat. While Dave would like to work as a professional animator someday, for now he says he makes his doodles for two reasons: for fun, and to bring joy to others.
“The main reason that I do them nowadays is that they make people happy. That might sound soft, but people really enjoy it. And I enjoy getting a hundred messages from people telling me that they really smiled or laughed, or they’re just happy with them. That’s the main reason I do them still.”
The reason SooperDave’s doodles are so charming, one could argue, is their emotiveness. Dave says his work can be described as “what things would be feeling if they felt something.” Viewers see the excitement of a baseball flying towards a bat, and then its shock when it connects. His doodles turn objects into cute, pudgy critters whose optimism, though often disappointed, is palpable.
Much like a sculptor, Dave’s creative process starts with selecting the perfect material. “There’s some where it’s really obvious what you can animate onto it, but some of them it’s not so obvious. It’s weird, because some days I’ll find three that would work, and then I’ll have a dry patch when I don’t find any that will work.”
Dave does all his animations frame-by-frame, by hand. This is even more impressive when you consider how many of them he’s made — 145 on Gfycat, amassing a total of nearly 47 million views. Dave says his hand-drawn style better suits the amateur videos that he uses for his source material. “Sometimes the jiggliness [of home video] works better,” says Dave. “I’ll be doing one and think, ‘Why did they do it like this? Why can’t they hold the camera steady?’ And I’ll remember that they obviously didn’t film it with me in mind.”
Despite his tremendous success, Dave is still a little bemused by his Internet fame. “One of my friends who’s a teacher was saying that one of the students in his class was talking about them,” he told me. “Obviously I don’t know this kid, but they found them on YouTube. It’s just weird that something that I do is being talked about randomly. So many people know about them.”