In 1908, French animator Émile Cohl made what is considered the first-ever animated film, a bleary black and white short entitled Fantasmagorie. Less than 90 seconds long and composed of 700 drawings, the film set in motion–pun intended–a trajectory that would establish animation as a major force in popular culture.
Today, films like Frozen, the Despicable Me franchise, and Minions have each grossed over a billion dollars. Beyond TV and film screens, motion graphics have also become a ubiquitous part of our daily digital lives. From reacting to a status on Facebook to the confetti explosions and fireworks celebrations of iMessage, it’s safe to say that animation in its current state bears little resemblance to its hand-drawn beginnings.
It’s not just the art that has evolved, the industry itself has become more democratized as the technology for making motion graphics has become more widely available. With digital tools like Photoshop, graphics tablets, and After Effects now at their disposal, artists don’t have to work at Pixar or Apple to create the animations of their dreams. And, when it comes to marketing that work? Platforms like Tumblr and Instagram have scaled to highlight top-notch animation, meaning artists can take their ideas directly to their audience’s feeds without compromising on artistic vision.
For fans of art and animation, we not only get a chance to be exposed to great art on a regular basis, we also we get to know the personalities behind the content we consume. Want to stay up to date on the most imaginative animators on Instagram? Whether you’re gif-obsessed, a cartoon super fan, or looking to learn animation, you’re sure to find visual inspiration in the feeds of these social media-savvy artists.
The opening credits for Comedy Central’s popular Broad City provide a strong glimpse into the mind of their creator, Emmy-award winning animator Mike Perry. A prolific painter and sculptor, Perry is also the curator of #GetNudeGetDrawn, a series where he and a crew of collaborators put out an open casting call for strangers who wish to be drawn in the buff. His psychedelic, candy-colored work is incredibly satisfying and endlessly entertaining and his Instagram feed won’t disappoint.
Cat Frazier’s animated gifs have also made a recent appearance in Broad City’s latest season. Based in the Bay Area, Frazier has been called “the woman responsible for the greatest gifs on the internet.” Part meme, part self-help art, part acid trip, Frazier’s work always provides an electric dose of hilarious (and very neon) enjoyment. Looking for more–as Frazier describes her work–“dad jokes if your dad was a black lesbian”? This is the feed for you.
Born in China and based in the UK, Yukai Du has already had an impressive 2019. She was recently tapped to develop in-store graphics for Apple, asked to design a collection for Everpress, and invited to speak at the prestigious Pictoplasma conference for animators and character designers in Berlin. As if that wasn’t enough? She was also asked to be the featured artist on one of Asia’s largest LED walls, located outside of the SOGO department store in Hong Kong.
Her Instagram feed, which often features detailed work set in the cosmos or reimagined landscapes illustrates the point that there is nothing easy about animation. For originality from a master at work, Du is the artist to follow.
Brooklyn-based artist John McLaughlin has made a name for himself on Instagram with his inventive animated creatures that he calls “fuzzy dudes.” A colorful, friendly and very furry mix between a yeti and Gumbi–the creatures are surreal, lively and wildly fascinating. They watch TV, they float in space, and their dance moves are, without a doubt, their most mesmerizing quality.
Though his fuzzy dudes may be McLaughlin’s main source of internet fame, he’s also an established motion graphic artist whose portfolio boasts projects with brands like Conoco, Apple Music and Giphy– he’s even got credits in a Beck music video. Turn to McLaughlin to spice up your feed with a little surrealism and a great soundtrack.
New York’s Abbey Lossing work features distinctive, colorfully-rendered urban-dwelling characters with enviable wardrobes and the goings on of everyday life. Her vivid, flat style has won her clients across the country including tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter and she’s contributed to publications including the New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Want to learn animation by exploring Lossing’s process and how she animates? She’s teaching a class on how to create layered .gifs with Photoshop and AfterEffects that’s now on Skillshare.
He doesn’t post a lot of animated content to his account, but artist Jacolby Satterwhite is an artist and animator name to know. Fresh off of creating the music video for Solange’s “Sound of Rain” from her latest album and corresponding film When I Get Home, Satterwhite builds a 3D animated reality that is visually arresting and unlike anything else in the field.
For “Sound of Rain”, Satterwhite leans into video game imagery and drone projections to create a universe that includes spacecrafts powered by animatronic horses, naked cowboys and the rapper Trina. The video also showcases his mastery in digitizing incredibly complicated choreography, a feat in and of itself.
Lana Simanekova works as a Senior Creative at Animade–where she contributed to the animations featured in Dropbox’s illustration-heavy 2017 rebrand. Her instagram feed is playful, filled with primary colors and expressive characters that run, skateboard, and fight against Monday (sometimes quite literally). It also includes a lot of hugs.
If you’re looking for artists that move effortlessly between pictorial, illustrative elements for clients and a more personal body of work, Simanekova is a great animator to know.
Working with a hand-drawn, painterly touch, Hannah Jacobs makes work that is organic and soft, with rounded edges and a soothing quality. An illustrator, animator and director, she has had her films shown in film festivals and events around the world–including SXSW, the Tribeca Film Festival and MONSTRA, among others. Jacobs has also developed pieces for The New York Times, Vogue, and VICE. Follow her feed for picturesque cabins, cute dog content, and sentimental landscapes. She won’t disappoint.
Want to animate your own works of art? Check out Abbey Lossing’s new class on how to animate your illustrations, now on Skillshare!
Banner/Thumbnail Image by Abbey Lossing