When and how did you begin creating art on Snapchat? I was one of the early adopters of Snapchat. Back then, it was just a picture messaging app with a simple drawing tool. I loved the simplicity, and I used it as a quick way to doodle and to decorate my pictures. I would take selfies and transform myself into a superhero or my favorite cartoon character. One doodle series that went viral was my Celebrity Selfie Series. I drew celebrities on top of my selfies. I would tell my friends I took a picture with a certain celebrity, and when they asked for proof, I would send them my Snapchat doodle.
Looking back, this was the beginning of my interest in augmented reality (AR). I was augmenting my reality by doodling on top of my pictures and videos. Now my favorite way to create my art is in AR. My art has evolved from simple doodles to 3-D interactive art in AR.
How have you seen the demand for Snapchat content evolve since you were starting out? Snapchat grew from a notorious picture messaging app to one of the top social media content, AR and mobile gaming platforms. I started using the app when there was no demand, no brands, no searchable content, no known storytellers. There were a few people who were using the app in creative ways, and we connected. In our small group, we started to collaborate, grow our audience and convince brands to sponsor our stories. It was tough at first to convince brands that this new messaging app, known for sending intimate pictures, had a larger and more creative potential. But after hours worth of doodles and many articles, panels, workshops and keynotes educating brands on how amazing Snapchat is, some Snapchatters, like myself, were able to create demand and careers with our Snapchat content.
What are some unique challenges of working in the social media influencer space? Social media is an amazing place to showcase your art. In just a few seconds, your art can reach thousands. Putting your work out for the world to see is incredible and scary at the same time. With thousands of eyes comes thousands of opinions. As a social media artist, you can either be the influencer or be influenced. Part of the challenge is sorting through the noise and finding constructive criticism to help your artwork reach that new level.
How did you get the idea to found The 11th Second? In the early days of Snapchat, Snaps only lasted for ten seconds. There was no replay button, no stories, no Discover—basically, you created art, sent it to your contact list and it was gone. I felt like more people needed to see these disappearing artworks, so I created the website. It’s called The 11th Second because the website gives these ten-second artworks their “11th second.” It is usually credited with how some of the first Snapchat creators found each other. As Snapchat has evolved, so has the website, and now it showcases community-created Snapchat lenses.
What is your favorite Snapchat lens you’ve created? If I had to choose one lens, it would be my interactive music video lens. The lens has props, and scenes are timed to change with the lyrics and beat of the music. Through the lens, viewers can become the star of the music video they just watched.
What do you believe a good Snapchat experience should do? A good Snapchat experience—a good mobile experience in general—utilizes the fact that we are on cellphones. Our cellphones can do so much more than a TV, so create an experience that is more than just watching content. With mobile devices, you can easily interact with an audience by taking traditional shows and adding AR, games, and interactive prompts that tell users to tap, screenshot or doodle in response to your show.
How does your digital art feed your analog work, and vice versa? They are merging. I’ve created traditional paintings, and when you scan them with Snapchat, it animates the work through AR. AR is giving my analog artworks new life and translating them to the language of this time—digital.
What do you hope to achieve with AR in the next few years? As an artist, I’m always trying to find new ways to make my imagination come to life and reach as many people as possible. AR combined with social media does just that. I want to invite people to see my colorful, playful world, and AR is the door.
What tips do you have for designers on using social media to foster their creativity? Social media is today’s art museum. The world is your audience. Use that to not only showcase your art, but also reach the right people. Because of social media, my art was able to reach brands that want to sponsor my work. Now I’m able to create art and do what I love full-time. Also, use social media as a place to find other artists for inspiration as well as collaboration. Social media is an amazing tool, where you can find inspiration and opportunities.