Zoe Burnett – A Citizen of the Internet


By admin



Our web designer Martine has braved James Franco in corn rows and watched rainbows melt, all in the name of enriching our Artsy Fartsy world here at Nasty Gal. This time, she clues us in on GIF artist (yes, it’s a thing) Zoe Burnett—and picks her brain on the important stuff, like screen names and Kid Pix. Plus, because Martine is extra-cool and persuasive, Zoe Burnett crafted two exclusive GIFs just for Nasty Gal (scroll to the bottom of this post to check ’em out).

Zoe Burnett is an internet wunderkind known world wide for her clever GIFs and brilliant use of emoji. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Burnett has collaborated with NSEW Press and YACHT, and her work has been featured  by everyone from Vice to Rhizome. As the dedicated computer nerd here at Nasty Gal, I spoke with Zoe about not abusing the GIF format, the cool women she admires and her current uniform (because every girls needs one).




The average lifespan of a screen name is one year. How long have you been Dream Beam? And if it wasn’t Dream Beam, what was your first sn? (Mine was Rocko3036.)

I became Dream Beam almost 5 years, which is the longest a screen name of mine has lived so far. But way before that, my first was gymgirl10pt0 @ aol (I was a gymnast).

From the invention of cinema to Varése’s sirens, the loop is a fundamental idea in modern thought. Why do you think the GIF is having a moment right now?

Because who wants to look at a still image anymore? There’s so much you can do with a GIF that can’t be done with anything else. But as someone who has been in love with this format for a while now, I think I can address the fact that the GIF may be peaking. With popularity comes overuse… and I don’t want to see the GIF die out because of this. Think before you GIF, people!

Judging from your work, I’d guess that Susan Kare is a big influence. Who/what are your other inspirations?

Susan Kare is of course an influence. April Greiman is another cool woman I get inspired by. She was one of the first designers to fully embrace the computer as a real art tool, which I think is very bad-ass. Generally, anything that I can find within my computer inspires me in some way or another. Whether it be old applications like Kid Pix or the way windows minimize into the dock.
Oh, and RuPaul.

Your emoji wallpaper is pure genius. Apple recently integrated emoji into the iOS keyboard, but I still think there are a few missing—like a butt, for example. If you could add three new emoticons what would they be?

I thought all my dreams came true when they added the pizza emoji but I’ll always want more. My top 3 are an ionic column, a middle finger, and Guy Fieri.

In her performance “Emotional Bandwidth Solutions,” Claire L. Evans characterizes the internet as a collective hallucination. How would you describe it?

I’m not the talented writer that Claire is… But to me the internet is this place where there will always be someone weirder than yourself. Which is comforting in some way and makes me feel very “at home”.

Many of your pieces draw on the aesthetics of obsolete media, what are your thoughts on digital decay? Do you think it prevents or accelerates nostalgia?

I don’t think I’ve lived long enough to experience digital decay in as deep a way as I could have. As someone who spends their weekends (and nights…) digging through websites filled with stuff like Apple advertisements from the early 90’s, though, I believe that it induces nostalgia more than it prevents it.

What are your current and upcoming projects?

At the moment, my art-life is kind of on hold until I finish this semester of school. After that, I’m hoping to focus on making some more physical things. Last year I made a zine and knowing that I was giving people something that existed outside their web browser was satisfying in a way much different than posting a JPG to tumblr.

Every girl needs a uniform. What’s your go-to outfit right now?

My go-to outfit is as simple as a black leather skirt with an oversized white t-shirt and my all white Nike high tops. If I’m feeling inclined to accessorize, I put on my silver script name necklace that says “Internet”.