I started making GIFs in 2007, and ended up posting 1000+ GIFs on my last website (weinventyou.net, RIP).
GIFs were my introduction to working with loops. I tried to do as many different things with Photoshop and GIFs as I could think of, without resorting to the same techniques or processes or “tricks” over and over again. Later on I added video editing, screen capture software, C4D, and other applications as components in my GIF workflow. Over time, GIFs were less frequently my end product, and more frequently one of multiple compositional elements in videos or physical installations. The GIF as a format (256 colors, typically a modest number of frames) became less important to me than its endlessly looping quality.
Still, the GIF format, along with the platform I was posting them on (Tumblr), posed constraints which encouraged compositional economy. For a long time, I had to think of ways to smoothly animate loops while using as few frames as possible so that the final file size would be small enough to squeeze under Tumblr’s limits. Tumblr’s former restrictions are also why many of my GIFs ended up with a 490×490 dimension. GIFs led me to experiment with the inherent musicality of loops in isolation or loops nested within loops, including tempo, phasing (in the Steve Reich sense), rhythm, and syncopation.