Reed + Rader are a digital art, photographic and graphic design duo that have been taking the world of GIF-art by storm for the last ten years. Pamela Reed and Matthew Rader were at the forefront of the digital arts movement long before Tumblr culture exploded.

Hailing from American farmtown and coal country Reed + Rader found each other whilst both attending the same art school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They moved to New York a year later and followed their hearts to get where they are today.

We went into this art world without any mentors or guidance and made things work through brute force and sheer determination and really not knowing any better. Without each other none of this would have been possible. Be nice, be hungry, have fun, and acquire a lot of cats.

The duo use photography and graphic design to create augmented realities with motion and animation. A keen interest in combining multiple mediums and elements has always existed in their work.

Even when we were shooting film we were incorporating paper collage and other elements. When we moved completely to digital those ideas came with us. Photography, video, animation, 3D modeling, game design, programming, AR/VR, etc – for us, using all of these mediums makes sense to us and allows us to create the worlds and tells the stories we want to tell.

Reed + Rader speaking at OFFSET Dublin 2016 by Bríd O'Donovan

Reed + Rader speaking at OFFSET Dublin 2016 by Bríd O’Donovan

Building their own worlds with the use of gaming engines and creating virtual reality experiences with 3D scans of people have now become daily occurrences but one of their earliest commissions for Becks is one that shaped their career.

They were doing an augmented reality project with QR codes and these physically constructed boxes all over the world and we go a chance to be part of it. We had total creative freedom to be as wild as we wanted and that project did a lot for our self-esteem moving forward and helped to embolden us to be kooky and true to us.

With their current work so embedded in the digital world it’s difficult to believe that Reed + Rader used to rely on analog methods.

Believe it or not, our digital worlds emerged out of the ashes of the death of Polaroid. We used to shoot large format 4×5 polaroids with both of us under the dark cloth together but when the film died we made the drastic decision to go totally digital and start doing GIFs. It was one late night conversation and that was that – print and film was dead to us.

So, aside from making the world a little more colourful and a lot more crazy, what’s next for the duo?

We’ve been excited about virtual reality since we were kids and we are working on VR projects but right now our focus is on 360 video since it’s much more accessible to the mainstream than VR is. Along with that we’ve been perfecting our photogrammetry process to get 3D scans of our characters into our virtual worlds.