Tumblin’: Lacey Micallef, Designer and GIF Wizard at Lulinternet
Lacey Micallef is the joyful, seizure-inducingly funny heart of Tumblr’s GIF community. A truly self-made designer, Micallef’s work began as an obsessive after-hours hobby and quickly evolved into a wildly popular body of pure interweb gold.
And since it’s the twentieth of April—a day widely recognized for astronomical pizza sales and enthusiastic giggling at computer screens—we requested (and received) some chat-time with the queen of 8-bit GIFs herself. Throw on your favorite Anamanaguchi track, do whatever it is the kids do these days, and join us for a highly “orexigenic” installment of Tumblin’.
When and why did you start Lulinternet? And why Tumblr?
I started making gifs in late 2010 after I started using dump.fm. At the time I was just using Tumblr to reblog stupid garbage and tell everyone my really important thoughts, which obviously changed when I started making gifs. At first i was just fucking around in photoshop, making 10-15 shitty gifs a day, so using something other than Tumblr seemed unnecessary. Slowly and surely my “fanbase” started growing, and I got more serious (lol) about gifs.
Eventually, I started dabbling in pixel art which was apparently a really good choice on my part. I chose to stay on Tumblr because there’s instant gratification when you post something. People immediately like, comment, and reblog— which is such a good feeling. Since i’ve been on tumblr from the beginning it doesn’t make much sense to me to post anywhere else.
Back in August, Tumblr’s staff blog described you as “a teacher of 3 year-olds and GIF artist by night.” How did you balance the requisite hours of mind-destroying blog perusal and CS5 saturation with holding down a “normal” job?
I was a preschool teacher while learning the gif biz. I taught for four years and very happily gave it up to move to New York city in August. It was kind of a nightmare learning this stuff while having to hold down a 60+ hour a week job because all I could think about was making gifs. I would wake up and make something before work, throw down a couple during my lunch break, and then spend my entire evening in photoshop making stupid shit. Now, fortunately, it’s how I make my living so I get to spend my entire day, everyday, doing that.
GIFs and videos, as opposed to many other modes of meme-y humor, seem to function best when the juxtaposition makes as little sense as possible. You’ve even proposed a carefully-articulated thesis on the matter. Would you care to expand upon your artistic statement?
Okay, here’s the deal: I am most influenced when I’m stoned. When I make things, I think “will that look cool after i smoke weed??????” and then I make it while sober to ensure that there’s more content than just a flashing graphic nightmare. I also try to stick to stuff that will make me happy—I don’t make stuff so I, or anyone else will think “wow so cool,” I make stuff so people will see it and be like “:D :D :D :D :D” (I’m very coherent and good with words obviously)
You’ve done commissioned work for some fairly famous folks. Who’s been the most fun to work with, and/or which projects have you enjoyed the most?
Doing gifs for Breaking Bad has been the most fun so far, for sure. I was given pretty much total creative freedom, which has made it a lot of fun. Working on gifs for Tim and Eric’s B$M was also pretty fun—getting paid to make nonsensical garbage is usually the best part for me. I love to work on cool projects for cool people, but the most fun I have is when I’m just making things on my own. Even when I’m working on something really fun for someone else, it can still feel like a job, which tends to “ruin” it for me.
What’s newest and what’s upcoming in the world of lulinternet? Any big projects coming down the pipeline?
I have a hard time looking into the future with the stuff I do, because even though people keep hiring me and throwing money at me to make stuff, I keep thinking “it’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes I suck!!!!!!!” So I’ve kept my “dreams” pretty realistic. There are a couple things I really want for myself. I want to do graphics for games (starting with iphone games and then eventually landing on xbox360, playstion 3—I don’t care which system to be honest). And then maybe some sort of cartoon? I don’t know!
Food—alongside/atop overjoyed ingestors thereof—is a constant theme in your work, and you’ve been noted as having impeccable taste in…well, taste. What are your favorite culinary havens in NY?
Let’s start with french fries. I obviously visit Pomme Frites a lot. Their fries are amazing. My favorite burger place is Paul’s. You can get amazing sake slushies from Jebon on St. Marks, and the pizza from Di Fara quite literally changed my life the first time I had it.
I’m really bad at these questions because I instinctively feel like I’m supposed to say shit like “EINSTEIN!!!” “GEORGE WASHINGTON!!!!!!!!!” but I think getting high with either of those people would be a nightmare (sorry, dudes!). I want to smoke weed with Albert Brooks so that I can listen to him talk (best voice, am I right??); the entire present day cast of “Roseanne” (or really just Roseanne Barr, I don’t care); and Rosie O’Donnell in this picture. Don’t need to explain that one.
Follow all of Lacey’s GIFtastic awesomeness at lulinternet, BreakingGIFs, on Twitter @lulinternet, and an ever-growing list of other sites. And be sure to buy stickers, shirts, and more from the amazing lulinternet store, which is having a sale all day today.
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