Argentinian computer animation artist Gustavo Torres – known in Tumblr and arty internet circles as Kidmograph – makes mesmerizing GIFs. The retro-futuristic animations look like the cyber space we imagined in the SciFi of the late 80s and early 90s, except on acid. His work earned him an artist spotlight on Giphy (the website’s first), and gigs art-directing videos and cover art for the likes of Kanye West, A-Trak, and Frank Ocean.
We caught up with Torres to learn more about his GIF wizardry and the inspirations behind his work.
If you were a SciFi character, who would you be and why?
I’ve always been drawn to extreme characters – the ones who are on the margins but loaded with symbolism. Like Sandman, The Spectre, Deadman, Constantine, etc.
How long have you been involved in animation?
I’ve been working on a regular basis since 2003. But I’ve been creating animated sequences since 1997, which is when I got my first computer. And a long time before that, I did it in the traditional way, drawing them frame by frame.
How much does A-Trak’s music influence your work?
It’s a big influence. He’s a contemporary reference and a really hard-working person. Plus he’s just a good guy, which is essential for having a healthy work relationship.
How has the internet has changed your life? When did you start delving in and why did you pick this medium/aesthetic?
The internet changed my life for the better in multiple ways. First, the democratization of content – the ability to learn everything I know online, and still continue to learn. Second, being able to connect with people from all over instantly – which was obviously impossible before. Pre-internet working on projects was a lot more complicated because it might require travel and a lot more time. Now, I can work from my studio for any other place in the world – I don’t have to move but can still be connected at all times. I owe so much to the internet. Although, one of the downsides is the lack of originality from people trying to “belong” to certain movements. Also, the theft of styles and work. Originality and copyrights have changed.
Do you do anything else besides illustration, GIFs and video?
I painted and did engraving for a long time, during the first period of my artistic career. Basically, I’ve always done the same thing. And I intend on pouring all of my digital knowledge into the traditional physical arts world, somehow.
What are your favorite Tumblrs?
I do have some favorites, although I don’t sit around all day browsing though blogs. I spend a lot of my time producing and trying to keep my mind clear. In general, they’re GIF or motion artists’ Tumblrs, a lot of people I respect from design/3D disciplines, like Beeple, Timothy Reynolds. Studios like MK12, Psypop, and Lobo, always had a big influence on me in the world of motion graphics.
Do you like living in this world or would you prefer to live in a place of your own invention?
The good thing about living in this world is that you remake it in each stage of your life. When you’re little you see it one way, and as an adult you understand it and perceive it in many different ways. So, yes, I like it. Even with all the mistakes and atrocities we commit. We are unique, and – at least for now – still no closer to discovering other life within this universe. That, for me, adds a pinch of anxiety as well as a quest to find out whether everything we imagine is actually possible.
What’s next for Kidmograph?
Over the years I’ve developed a work system based on themes that I am personally interested in, which has also given me the best jobs. Now that I have that base, I have several projects in mind for the future that are getting closer to happening. For example, working on horror films and in video games or with a Contemporary Art magazine. We’ll see where the future takes me.