Snapchat Lens Creator Spotlight: Katrina Iosia

Katrina Iosia used to own a cake decorating business. Now, she creates even more tantalizing creations on Snapchat. The New Zealand born Niuean lens creator’s work, often inspired by the ocean, spans physical sculptures and mixed reality, with exhibitions in galleries and on the street.

Fascinated by her immensely creative work, I reached out to learn more about the artist.

Q: How do you describe yourself to people who don’t understand AR and ML?

A: I always find this question interesting because there’s not really one way to describe what I do. I usually start by sharing that I am a visual artist integrating my sculptures into [the] technological mediums of VR and AR. I always proceed with the follow-up of showing examples of my work as, visually, it’s self explanatory and sometimes I have made a few videos for them to take away. So it really is dependent on who is asking.

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

A: I started using Snapchat in 2013 as a way to send multimedia messages and to document my art making. Believe it or not, I only just started creating lenses. I published my first lens in December 2019, so I’m still fairly new, and I enjoy learning as I go.

Q: Which lens (of ones you’ve made or others) is your current favorite?

A: I create my lenses with a theme in mind and I recently created a fun fruit series inspired by a kiwi summer. My current favorite is the watermelon and the dragon fruit as they’re quite playful.

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

A: What I enjoy the most is how each lens is viewed [with] a different perspective each time. [Lenses] provide a dialogue so anyone that uses [them] is able to create their own unique stories and have control over how they share these stories.

The joy of hearing laughter in videos while using them is priceless and you can’t help but feel motivated to create more lenses that create wonder and awe.

Q: Some of your lenses do use machine learning; did you build those ML models yourself?

A: The imagery that I have used in the “Coral Floorscapes” are sculptural paintings that I made in 2016, so they have been reimagined into a digital space through ML. [It uses] floor segmentation, so it’s reimagined paintings into a fantastical new form.

Q: As a Lens Studio Creator, what opportunities do you think a tool like SnapML provides?

A: I think it’s a huge opportunity that allows for more boundaries to be pushed through creativity. There’s no limit to what you can create; it’s just a matter of making the imaginative worlds come to life and figuring out how.

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

A: If you had asked me this question a year ago, I never would have imagined that I’d be in this position of becoming an Official Lens Creator with Snapchat. Having my AR work recognized on an international level is hugely exciting.

Currently, I am not certain of what direction my career is going, but I can confidently say that I know for certain it is evolving into new creative spaces. It’s extremely important to me as a Niuean Pacifika artist residing in New Zealand.

It’s the opportunity to pave the way for young and budding artists [who] are thinking of a career in creative technologies, because you don’t know who is being inspired by your work.

To learn more about Katrina, visit her website.

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