Creative Spotlight: Shawn

Making lenses is a difficult endeavor, but for Shawn there’s another layer: he’s colorblind. The young creator has already made a number of lenses that allow users to see the world the way he does.

On top of a solar system themed series of lenses, he’s created a number of fun, subtle filters. I chatted with the creator to learn more.

Q: How long have you been using Snapchat? When did you start making your own lenses?

I’ve been using Snapchat since around 2014 I think, but I started making lenses on February 18th, 2020, so a little over a year ago.

Q: Which lens is your current favorite?

I would say that Nostalgia-Kira is definitely my favorite go-to lens. Just something about it draws me in every time. Another favorite of mine is Deuteranomaly. I made this lens so people are able to see the world the way I do.

Q: What do you like about creating lenses and seeing people use them?

The thing I like most about creating lenses is that I really get to express my creativity. I get to make reality mine. I think it’s awesome seeing people use my lenses, it’s like an accomplishment, in my opinion. It makes me feel good that people are able to feel confident while using my lenses.

Q: In what ways do your lenses currently use machine learning?

I have several lenses that I’m working on that include Style Transfer machine learning that I just haven’t been able to release yet. Machine learning is so fun to mess around with and I can’t wait to release my first ML lens!

Since I’m only experimenting with ML at the moment, I’ve been making a few things to test out in Photoshop and I’ve been messing around with the coding side of ML too.

Q: You’re colorblind — how does this effect the types of lenses you make?

I’m deuteranomaly colorblind, meaning I can’t see reds, oranges, and greens. I can mainly see blue/purple. This effects my creating because I need to put in extra effort trying to make sure my lenses are perfect before they get published.

Thankfully I have amazing friends who help me whenever I need it. It’s all really just trial and error. In my opinion, when it comes to being colorblind or visually impaired, I want people to know that it’s really difficult to make your lens perfect or even good in everyone else’s eyes.

I’m personally glad that I’m colorblind because it’s makes me unique, and at times I wish I wasn’t, because it would make my life so much easier, but creating wouldn’t be as fun without the challenge.

Q: What tools would you like to see come out of Lens Studio in the future?

Some tools I’d like to see in the future for Lens Studio is the ability for everyone to share their assets inside of the application so newer creators, or even experienced creators, can try something new or learn off of what other people have made. Another tool I’d like to see introduced is bigger file sizes, because right now the max file size is 4MB, and that limit is really easy to pass when having multiple effects or models in your lenses.

Q: Do you think Snapchat will only increase in popularity in the future or die off like other social media platforms have?

I think Snapchat will keep growing. There are so many things to do, like mess around with filters, talk to your friends, or even start creating your own filters. Snapchat is very user-friendly and the app has more and more active users everyday. I don’t think Snapchat will be dying off anytime soon because it’s a well known app when it comes to AR.

Q: Where do you see your career going — how important is it for you to be a digital creator?

I’m only 15 so I have a lot ahead of me but I’ve been designing digitally for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been interested in AR and graphic design, but I have a long road ahead of me, with a lot of room for improvement. I’m always learning new things that help me better my experience as a creator, and a person overall.

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