For Jimmy Simpson, Working with Giphy Feels like Creating a Personal Project with a Payday at the End
Interview by Mike O'Donnell / Editor
WNW Member Jimmy Simpson’s work is an endless experimentation of new styles. Every time he shares new work, there’s an entirely new dimension added, which is a very intentional approach: “Every year I take on a few projects that give me the opportunity to experiment. Every time I do this I end up playing with a new style or technique I haven’t been able to use in other commercial work.” The New York-based illustrator and animator’s latest collaboration with Giphy was also a very intentional approach. “I actually tracked this one down. I had worked with Giphy before via Dark Igloo who commissioned this logo animation last year. My aesthetic and sense of humor lines up pretty well with the brand so I reached out about creating a sticker pack.”
In our interview below, Jimmy talks about the benefits of having open-minded clients like Giphy and why their voices align. He also discusses his interest in working with musicians and the empowerment and excitement from being part of a creative community that is overwhelmingly positive.
How did this Instagram sticker project with Giphy come about?
I actually tracked this one down. I had worked with Giphy before via Dark Igloo who commissioned this logo animation last year. My aesthetic and sense of humor lines up pretty well with the brand so I reached out about creating a sticker pack a few months ago. Both projects were really open ended creatively so I used them as an opportunity to have fun and try something new.
In what ways did this project enable you to explore new creative avenues?
Every year I take on a few projects that give me the opportunity to experiment. Every time I do this I end up playing with a new style or technique I haven’t been able to use in other commercial work. For this particular project it was important to me to stick the characters into live action environments because that's how they will be used in the app. This led to a bunch of fun Amazon purchases and a scrappy little video shoot with the help of WNW Member Freddy Arenas.
What makes you proudest of this project?
Honestly I am proudest of the fact that I enjoyed every part of this project. I took this project on as a way of opening myself up creatively after working on a more long-term advertising job. The goal was to follow my instincts and have as much fun as possible. I think the lava lamp with sunglasses is proof that I wasn’t taking anything too seriously.
I’m also really happy with the fact I was able to work with friends to document the project. Freddy Arenas helped me put together a Pee Wee's Playhouse-inspired shoot and Kevin Fallon (aka Falside) created the perfect track to compliment the nostalgic aesthetic I was going for. I was laughing pretty hard once I attached Kevin’s music. I love the angst and drama it added to the depressed little characters.
Any creative advice you can impart that you learned on this project?
Follow your <3
What is it about Giphy that makes it such an exciting client for you and your creative peers?
Working with brands like Giphy feels like you are creating a personal project where you get some money at the end. It can be a great break from the endless rounds of revision and oversight in the ad world. Also, these projects are easier to finish than purely personal work because there is a hard deadline and parameters.
How does your specific creative style align with the Giphy brand and voice?
I like to keep my personal style pretty fluid while connecting each project with recurring imagery and themes. My work tends to be very nostalgic and playful like Giphy. There’s also a free association that happens when you scroll through Giphy’s homepage that is present in my work as well.
What would be your dream project or job, or is it already on your resume?
I would consider the ident I made for MTV International a few years ago a dream project. It was basically an open brief from a major television network. As far as future projects, I plan on creating a music video for my brother Vincent who works under the name Lowah later this year. I’m hoping that will give me a platform to start working with musicians a bit more.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
Creatively I am really influenced by artists and musicians that don’t limit themselves stylistically. This includes people like Heinz Edelmann, Toro Y Moi, Wayne White and Flying Lotus just to name a few. Stylistically I have been really influenced by the drawings of Ken Price and paintings by Stuart Davis over the last few years.
Why do you make things?
At this point I can’t not make things! I usually have 3 or 4 project ideas floating around in my head and I don’t feel quite right unless I’m making progress on one of them. I feel really lucky that I've been able to convince people to pay me to make things for them and I’m going to ride that out as long as possible. I also get excited about being part of a creative community that is overwhelmingly positive.
What do you do when Not Working?
I always joke with people that I have been basically drawing pictures and skateboarding since I was 10 years old. Other than that I am either exploring NYC or spending time with family. My oldest brother just had a baby so I’ve been trying to put in as much uncle time as possible.
Who are some other WNW members whose work you admire and why?
Saiman Chow and Robert Wallace are two of my favorite Working Not Working members. They both work in a wide range of styles and techniques while maintaining a clear voice throughout their portfolio. I also get really excited about work by Sophie Koko Gate, Joel Plosz, and many others.
What do you want to see more of in 2019?
I want to see more collaboration between creatives! New York seems like the ideal place for this but it can be very easy to get in a routine. I have a few collaborative project ideas I would like to get the ball rolling on this year.