Students in field

Viral artist Libby VanderPloeg GIFs Finlandia Fridays with artistic knowledge

October 12, 2018

Visiting artist Libby VanderPloeg dropped by Finlandia Fridays to share her artistic wisdom, and to settle the debate, is it GIF with the “g” sound or GIF with the “j” sound, like the peanut butter. VanderPloeg is nationally known and has work appear in the New York Times, Netflix, Huffington Post, Penguin Random House, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and TED events.

Libby VanderPloeg at Finlandia University“I’ve had some surprising viral moments in my career,” stated VanderPloeg. “Viral moments can be bad, but in my experience it has been good.” VanderPloeg’s work Lift Each Other Up is a prime example of a piece that has really taken off on the internet. “The internet has changed everything. The way we share our work, and in some cases it changes the work we make,” mentioned VanderPloeg, who enjoys making work that is shareable, but also likes to create that has a social meaning behind it.

While at FinnU, VanderPloeg was able to visit with students and speak in a few classes, sharing her experiences as an artist. With the smaller class sizes, VanderPloeg interacted with students on a personal level, answering questions about her profession.

In this episode VanderPloeg shared a defining moment as an artist was when she was young child. She had painted a picture of some giraffes (pictured to the left) and a stranger complimented her on her work. That’s when VanderPloeg knew being an artist was a possibility. It is a reminder to all of us how important words of encouragement can be, even to strangers.

Originally from downstate Michigan, VanderPloeg has been enjoying her time in the Upper Peninsula. Part Finnish herself, VanderPloeg stated that the experience has helped her get in touch with her roots.

She also prefers to use GIF with the “g” sound, referring to it as “the GIF that keeps on GIF-fing.”

More Libby VanderPloeg


Don’t miss a single episode by subscribing to the Finlandia Fridays e-mail newsletter! Be the first to find out about new episodes, and maybe see some exciting behind the scenes action.

Subscribe to Finlandia Fridays e-mail newsletter


Have story suggestions or even would like to be on the show yourself? We’d love to have you!

Drop us a line at communications@finlandia.edu.


Thanks for checking out Finlandia Fridays, one of four podcasts in the Finlandia University Podcast Network. Finlandia Fridays is a weekly interview series talking about a wide range of Finlandia University topics. You can check out an archive at finlandia.edu/fridays. We also invite you to subscribe to the Finlandia Podcast Network wherever you get podcasts.

FinnU will not enroll students for 2023-2024Learn More