This article originally appeared on VICE Colombia
A couple of weeks ago, Jean Francois Painchaud was just another Canadian animator – working for the PBS kids show Wild Kratts by day, making sexually explicit GIFs by night. Little did he know, when he sat in front of his computer at 10AM last Monday, that his life was about to change forever.
Jean Francois had been posting his erotic art on social networks under the alias Phazed for about two years without really getting anywhere. But on that day, Facebook decided to ban several of his illustrations at once; Suddenly, his Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook accounts welcomed more than 45,000 new followers. Jean Francois was finally internet famous.
I called him up for a chat.
VICE: Your work became viral after it was banned on Facebook. Did Facebook inadvertently do you a favour?
Jean Francois Painchaud: In a way, yes. Soon after I started posting my art online, I found out that there are people out there who are very sensitive when it comes to the female body. Some get particularly upset when they see a nipple. No matter how much I censor my work, I still get reported. It's ridiculous.
So, whenever they take down my art or censor me, I make a big deal out of it, hoping that we might be able to change this culture of incessant censoring over time. That's the main thing I learned from practising Judo – to use whatever people throw at me, against them.
How did you start working with GIFs?
I studied game development for a year, then animation for another year and then conceptual art for one more year. I never finished any of those degrees – I just wanted to learn as much as possible, which usually happens in the first year or so. One day, I landed on some random video on Youtube, that showed you how to do animations using Photoshop. I felt like giving it a shot and soon realised it was a lot of fun, and that it also added a lot of life to a drawing.
Did you ever plan to become internet famous?
The only real plan I ever had was to not have to work at a job I don't like, where I have shifts and I'm told what to do, by someone I don't want to work for. I always wanted to do what I love for a living. My art never really took off until I had some psychedelic trips with mushrooms though. I think that really changed the direction of my work.
How did mushrooms affect your work?
Mushrooms didn't only help my art develop; they changed my entire life. Using mushrooms helped me overcome my depression, my insecurities and my anxiety. Most of that anxiety came from negative experiences with my father and being bullied at school.
Before I found shrooms, I was making art to improve my skills. It was as if I was trying to impress myself or show off. But what's the point of sharpening your tools, if you're never going to build something of your own?
Sex and psychedelia seem to be your main subjects. What's the connection between the two, for you?
Sex and psychedelics have been very beautiful and inspiring experiences in my life – that's the connection. I feel that both psychedelics and sex can help you transcend your ego and tap into a purer state of being – of living in the moment.
For a more than reasonable price, Phazed could make a GIF of you, your lover or your pet. Get in touch with him here.