Google. WeChat. Hasbro. Walmart.
That’s a short list of the companies who have found, and hired, animator-illustrator Eran Mendel via his Dribbble. Because it’s not just a normal Dribbble—it’s filled to the brim with gifs. Funny gifs, weird gifs, cute gifs, and most importantly, Game of Thrones-themed gifs.
Game of Thrones intro
Animated bear for Google Docs
Emoji created for WeChat
Mendel, 41, is based in a humble suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel. Without a smartphone or personal computer, he’s managed to become an internet sensation. Here’s what he has to say about personal projects, work-life integration, and why he started giffing.
Plus, the gifs themselves.
Inside Design: We’re dying to know: are you a full-time gif artist?
Eran: Well, sort of.
I started sharing my gifs as part of achieving a professional goal, which was to exclusively take on the kinds of projects that I love. By sharing my personal projects on Dribbble, Facebook, and Instagram, I created a portfolio that was geared towards clients looking for that style—my style—and it worked.
Bear animation created for Google Docs
So, even if not every project is in gif form, you can say that they’ve become my full-time job.
A personal project of Mendel’s called “People at the office”
ID: Why gifs?
Eran: I’m an illustrator by trade, and I decided to sharped my animation skills. Starting with gifs was a smooth transition from static illustration to illustrations that, well, moved. Though I studied animation a bit in college, producing these gifs gave me enough experience to pursue animation professionally.
“The [gif] medium is very personal because I can complete projects from start to finish on my own.”
ID: So you’re doing them for the love and the money?
Eran: Well, the magic of personal projects is that there are no briefs, no deadlines—just ideas. I love music, I love Game of Thrones. The medium is very personal because I can complete projects from start to finish on my own.
A man at the office, selected from Mendel’s project “People at the office”
It’s important for me to always have personal projects going that I own from A-Z, from conceptualization all the way through sharing on social channels. Working on these short gifs lets me try out new skills and concepts all the time, without getting stuck on one project or idea.
Emoji created for WeChat
ID: How did you start growing the audience for your personal projects?
Eran: Most of my clients find me through my Dribbble account. I signed up for Dribbble in the early days, 2013, after winning a design contest whose prize was a Dribbble invite. I started off slowly by uploading some illustrations I was really proud of. The tipping point happened in 2016 after I first started releasing Game of Thrones gifs.
Now I have 23k followers on Dribbble, 19K on Facebook, and 10K on Instagram.
Illustrated for Google Docs
ID: So how did you move from giffing for fun to giffing for clients?
Eran: Dribbble. Without a doubt. Most of my clients, from tech to bands, have found my work there.
“Working on these short gifs lets me try out new skills and concepts all the time, without getting stuck on one project or idea.”
I’m not exclusively a motion designer. Maintaining a consistent style is more important to me than working solely on gifs.
ID: How do you structure your time?
Eran: Unlike the stereotypical freelancer, my hours are the standard 9-5. Especially since I don’t have a smartphone or personal computer, I’m able to keep my work at work and spend the rest of my time with my wife and newborn daughter.
Eran at his desk
My day kicks off with coffee and checking email. From there, it’s split between client work and personal projects. From there, I spend something like four hours/day heads down on client work. The rest, 30% give or take, is spent on maintaining the personal projects I always have cooking.