These Presidential GIFs Offer
Actually Funny Alternative Facts
MIKE O'DONNELL / EDITOR
In celebration of Independence Day, we're passing the megaphone to WNW Member Chris Timmons, whose latest project, "The All of Presidents", takes the seriousness of politics down a peg or 45. The All of Presidents is a 45-day GIF marathon that offers some 100% factual information about all the guys that have held the position throughout history.
For those of you who think this is just more fake news, and that John Tyler was not in fact one of three presidents to get his professional start as a scarecrow, Chris doesn't hold back in his response. "Listen, you don’t almost-win as many Pulitzers as I have by delivering 'real' news. But rest assured, I really do read about each president before I get started. And my GIF concepts come out of that research… and/or the general plot of whatever I’m watching on Netflix at the time."
Tell us about your creative background. Who is Chris Timmons and how did he get here?
Chris Timmons was (and sometimes still is) that kid with a REALLY overactive imagination. I grew up on a farm in middle-of-nowhere Georgia where I was always making up wild stories and drawing comics to entertain myself. I did watch a little too much TV, but I also won every coloring contest in my town’s local newspaper. Desperately needing less space, I moved to NYC for art school and then stuck around as a character animator on shows for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel. I then switched gears for a motion graphics stint at NBC Sports, but it turns out I missed making goofy characters shake their butts. That’s when the GIFs began. I love that you can do them on your own, quickly, and put them online where even my mom can figure out how to watch them. Anyway, posting my own stuff led to professional gigs for social media campaigns. So I guess my plan now is to keep making GIFs ‘til the internet breaks.
Give us two truths and one lie about yourself.
I rocked the saxophone and a pretty sick mullet in Middle School Jazz Band.
I married my high-school sweetheart.
I was born on the Fourth of July.
How did the idea of “The All of Presidents” come about, and in what ways has the whole process challenged and surprised you?
I was obviously surprised by the 2016 election results. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a twist ending (it was Earth all along?!), but the media frenzy got me wondering about all the guys who occupied the White House before Twitter accounts. So I started reading up on presidents and came up with the idea to GIF them – all of them. However, this being my first attempt at a GIF project of this scope, I’ve got to say I wasn’t prepared for the endurance aspect. There are definitely days (or more accurately late nights/early mornings) when I get a little loopy. I’ve got to say though, delirium helps in coming up with concepts. That’s probably been my favorite challenge – keeping the ideas flowing and making sure my take on each president feels fresh.
Who have been your biggest creative and comedic influences with this project?
I was a huge Monty Python fan growing up. Terry Gilliam’s animations are brilliant and so funny. I should also give a shout out to GIF artist James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger). I had a great time working with him on a job in Amsterdam, and I love the epic stories he tells using historic art. As for comedy, I’m really into the show Drunk History. Yet I always wonder what would happen if a drunk historian was repeatedly hit in the head with a frying pan and then spontaneously caught on fire? I’d like to think “The All of Presidents” explores that part of the story.
What would you like to say to the pundits who think this is fake news? That Grover Cleveland did not, in fact, gather honey. And that John Tyler was not, in fact, one of three presidents to get his professional start as a scarecrow.
Listen, you don’t almost-win as many Pulitzers as I have by delivering “real” news. But rest assured, I really do read about each president before I get started. And my GIF concepts come out of that research… and/or the general plot of whatever I’m watching on Netflix at the time.
Which GIFs that you’ve posted so far are you proudest of and why?
At the risk of making some dead presidents jealous, I’ve got to say my favorite GIF so far is James Garfield and his relentless hatred of Monday mornings. I’ve literally been sketching that concept in notebook margins since Ms. Carter’s fifth-grade social studies class.
Are you generally interested in politics or do you more just have a nostalgic appreciation for circuses?
Don’t get me wrong, I come for the politics. But I stay for the cotton candy.
Any other presidential fun facts you uncovered during your research that you’d like to share?
Well, it’s not exactly presidential, but in my research I was fascinated to discover that the classic film “The Goonies” was inspired by a true story about the 1894 Supreme Court Justices. Of course, in real life, most of those guys were well into their 70’s when they tracked down One-Eyed Willy’s treasure.
Have you ever had this much fun inventing lies?
I’ve come up with a lot of “somewhat-exaggerated non-truths” in my life. But these are definitely among the most entertaining.
What’s next for you?
I’m pretty sure I’ll be fielding a lot of offers to run in the next round of local elections. But if that doesn’t pan out, you’ll probably find me making more GIFs.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d just like to say thanks SO MUCH for the support! It’s an honor to be a part of this. Also, for anyone who wants to follow along and see how this thing wraps up, there’s my Instagram.