After a long break, our interviews with AR creators are coming back! We are very happy that our next guest is Allan Gregorio, a true artist and a reflexive person. Learn how Instagram effects can help us express ourselves and vanquish our fears while being creatively mixed with other fields of art.
Hi, Allan! Your Twitter bio describes you as a ‘visual artist and portrait photographer’. Why did you start creating Instagram AR effects and how do they relate to your other artistic works?
When I was young, I used to watch my grandmother paint everything around her: dishcloths, bedsheets, t-shirts, Christmas decorations. She showed me how art can be anything and everything. I started drawing and painting from an early age as a result of her influence. My first job was as an assistant to a photographer from my hometown in Brazil. It was during my time there that I discovered my passion for photography, which I have continued today.
Photography by Allan Gregorio: allangregorio.com
I believe that all of the arts complement each other and that inspiration can come from many places. When Facebook opened Spark AR to everyone, I saw the opportunity to bring my drawing, painting and photography together in one art form, so I started creating filters as an experiment. In my first week, I generated over 200k impressions, so I just continued. It’s amazing to see people all over the world sharing my work in a way that helps them express themselves.
Many of your dozens of effects seem to draw inspiration from fantasy. What is so appealing about impersonating some dark and mythical creatures?
I was drawn to the fantasy world from an early age: Avatar, The Last Airbender, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, X-men, MMORPGs and anything related to it.
This may be because I didn’t have an easy childhood; I lost my mother when I was very young and I had many problems growing up in a homophobic and sexist society. The world of fantasy was, in part, an escape from reality, and it also played a big role in my life in terms of helping me to come to terms with who I am and my place in this world. It pretty much shaped my identity today.
AR filters help us to express ourselves and share stories with others. This process, in itself, is therapeutic. It helps to deal with emotions and keep yourself a bit more sane during the dark times that we’re living in.
What are your favourites among your Instagram effects? Will you let us in on the process of making of any of them?
That’s a difficult question, because it keeps changing. My favourite is normally the last filter I created, as my technique improves and becomes more polished over time. My favourite fantasy filters feature elves, mermaids and aliens, but my most used filter is called Bozo, which was inspired by the current Brazilian president. Thanks to the internet, we have the freedom to express ourselves and say how we are tired of misogyny, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. Bozo is my contribution to the conversation against this particular president and the ideals he and his government represent.
In terms of process, it’s very loose and I work through instinct rather than method. I rarely have an exact plan for what I’m going to make… and if I do, it generally changes further down the road. I will start with a broad idea and then browse a lot, search for specific images, study some references and then I might find something completely different or unexpected which inspires me. Then I try to bring it to life, mostly through trial and error. Sometimes it takes a day or sometimes it takes several weeks.
Do you recognize Instagram effects as a form of art? Are they just hobby for you or do you carry out any orders for brands?
Definitely yes, Instagram effects are a form of art. We are all unique beings and we have many ways of creating. AR effects are just another format and platform for creativity. In a way, AR filters are one of our most important creative platforms available because they have the ability to reach many people very quickly, creating change in the process. I receive many messages from people sharing how my filters make them feel.
AR filters are predominately a hobby to help me express myself and commissions are welcomed from brands or organisations who can relate to my style and have a positive message to communicate.
What do you think the future holds for Augmented Reality in social media?
Technology – and in particular social media – is taking more of our time than ever before as it integrates into every element of our daily lives. This is both scary and exciting, and there are both positive and negative aspects to this phenomenon. The best thing we can do is be prepared to deal with it, stay grounded and remember that the virtual world may be exciting but real change can only take place in the physical world. Where AR specifically is concerned, the overwhelmingly positive role it is currently playing is in helping to drive creative, digital youth culture. This creates limitless opportunities for work, play, expression, and connection. Augmented Reality is here to stay, so let’s give it at bright future and use it as a force for good.