Former Verizon web designer Cyrene Quiamco collaborates with such brands as Walmart and Disney to make pop art, including an adventure series starring Frozen’s Anna and Elsa. She spoke with Fast Company about how she makes viral Snapchat art for her more than 100,000 followers: “On Snapchat, only you can see the engagement. And that’s the best kind of thing to lessen the pressure to post something great.”
How did you get started on Snapchat?
Snapchat was just a messaging app, but instead of using it as a messaging app, I started drawing and using the drawing tool to create artwork. Then some of my friends started screenshotting it and sharing it on other platforms, and eventually my Snapchat art got noticed and a blog got it. Then it started to go viral. That’s how I started on Snapchat, by having my art known first. My content is mostly pop art. It’s what’s happening in the current world— celebrities, cartoons, brands.
What do you love most about using the platform?
The interaction, being engaged and having the audience easily participate, is what I love most. That’s what draws me to this platform more than other because I can’t do the same stories on other platforms compared to Snapchat. Snapchat has everything you need on the app. On other platforms, you need to use other equipment. But on Snapchat, everything you need, from the editing tools, the drawing tools, the special effects, it’s just on your phone. It’s on the app. Everything you need is on there. You can pour all your creativity and not need to whip out a computer or anything.
What kinds of posts have you noticed do the best on Snapchat?
The most effective content on Snapchat has a lot of interaction. The distance between Snapchat and another platform is that Snapchat has a layer of being interactive. Instead of just being passive viewers where they just watch, they can actually participate in it. For example, whenever I create a story I tell people to draw or act out the next scene. Where on another platform they can’t really do that because the content is already made. But on Snapchat, you can make it ahead of time but you can curate it almost live. They’re able to participate in the story, become part of it, and there’s more engagement that way. Your Stories become more memorable.
Do you have an example?
A non-branded story I did—I have this series called the Ele Machine series. It’s a scripted animation show, and I do a lot of drawings and I take my sidekick Ele, the little orange sidekick I have, on different adventures. The background is fully drawn, and it’s kind of like a green screen thing. An example would be like, my character was drowning and I’d ask people, hey, draw me some bubbles, draw me some air to help save my character. Within minutes tons of people are trying to rescue Ele. And then I’d repost their reactions and submissions. Now they’re becoming lifesavers in the story. I would do that also with branded things. A lot of people invite their friends to say, “Hey look, I’m on this story.” They get their fifteen minutes of fame, or 24 hours of fame, or 10 seconds of fame. That’s effective for me as a storyteller and for a brand it’s super valuable. Traditionally brands would only get comments, and that only takes people one or two minutes to do. But for them to act out, even draw something for the brand, some of them take 10, 15, 30 minutes to draw that asset. For a brand to get that reaction, that participation, that’s super valuable.
How do you see Snapchat as fostering creativity?
Snapchat encourages creation first. On other platforms you see that when you open it up, you consume first. The feed is first. But when you open up Snapchat you see the camera first. You’re encouraged to create first rather than consume first. It encourages me as a creator. The less-defined art puts a lot less pressure on people. What draws people to Snapchat as a regular user is they’re not using it as a platform for creating art. You can send out as many ugly selfies or ugly drawings as you can and you don’t feel the pressure that it has to be really pretty to send to your friends. You can send multiples and it doesn’t feel like it’s spamming them. You can save it, but more than likely you have the assurance that it will disappear.
This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.