Giffiti Jazzes Up Photos With GIFs

In the ever-escalating social media arms race, GIFs are the best way to get attention. Static photos are so 2013. But a new app called Giffiti (like graffiti with GIFs) lets you enhance your pics by overlaying animations. 

Announced by Nalin Mittal this month with a simple post on Reddit, Giffiti rocketed to the front page and hit #14 amongst U.S. Entertainment apps on iOS.

This was not the plan. Mittal had sold his company to InMobi. He left with his friend Tim Jones and was trying to build an app for making birthday video montages called Celebrate. They weren’t getting anywhere, but saw GIF search engines gaining popularity on Reddit and Product Hunt. They took three weeks and built Giffiti. 


Sometimes simple is good. “Yesterday alone we got 1000 five-star reviews” Mittal told me last week.

Giffiti lets you upload a photo from your camera roll, then select from an array of simple GIF cutouts to overlay on top. You can move and resize them to your liking, and then save the finished product as a GIF or movie file so you can share it via text, social networks, or however you want. It’s reminiscent of another GIF app called PingTank.

Inside Giffiti, you’ll find a selection of 100 classic Internet memes, celebrities, and special effects to employ. Right now, some of the GIFs are made by the team and others are authorized for use. The company added a few for tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards.

But some of the GIFs are just ripped from the web without any attempt at attribution or proper rights. That’s not exactly respectful, but Mittal thinks any public figure or TV show being referenced is just getting free “brand awareness”. Giffiti will cooperate with takedown requests. My favorite GIF of Homer Simpson retreating into some shrubbery disappeared after a few days. 

Eventually, Mittal imagines allowing users to submit animations, and building a business by selling premium GIFs. The app’s popularity, however short-lived, should remind social app entrepreneurs that sometimes spending years in the basement crafting the perfect product isn’t the answer. Experiment. Ship. And sometimes everything falls into place.