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I have the following issue: I used the graphic software program GIMP to create a really simple TIFF image - white background layer, a couple of black polygons on it. For some reason I can't import this simple image into ArcGIS 10.3.1. Arc only displays the white background... Any advice?

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I run into this alot with construction plans (black lines and polygons on white backgrounds). There are a couple things you can do to fix this.

The first thing is when you export that image from GIMP, set it to grayscale and here's the key: remove the alpha layer. You can do this by Layer>Transparency>Remove Alpha Layer. The alpha layer can cause issues with how the image is immediately brought in.

Now as far as the image in ArcGIS, you need to just simply change the symbology. Generally changing the background value to Black will fix your issue. Your background color right now is likely No Data or White. You can also change the stretch type and that should adjust your color range. Make sure your image is displayed as Stretch as well and not RGB.

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