Creative, designer or influencer?

The lines between being a creative and an influencer are increasingly blurring, as generations of designers and artists come of age on social media. Here we talk to social media filmmaker Kevin Parry about how he grapples with being both

In an era where social media is often a far more resonant calling card than any portfolio or art school degree certificate, there’s a new breed of creative that’s just as comfortable in front of the camera as behind it. Bucking the stereotype of designers or illustrators as the slightly shy, always-doodling arty child who grew up to find you could draw things for a living, these smiling, well-coiffed creatives relish being public-facing as much as they love creating the shot.

Creatives with a level of social media celebrity are nothing new, but there’s been a shift. We’ve long enjoyed the online stylings of the likes of Jon Burgerman: a natural, but wry, surreal sort of Instagrammer; or Mr Bingo, who knows he’s funny, but with an acute awareness of the strangeness of performativity.

These new creative celebs are the Mickey Mouse Club kids of industry and ‘inspo’ social feeds: photogenic, occasionally goofy, charming, chipper and quietly professional. Take Jessica Walsh as the star of her self-initiated 40 Days of Dating, for instance – perhaps the high priestess of this new wave of Insta-ready stars – or Wade and Leta, the #couplegoals.

Since the advent of platforms like TikTok and the evolution of YouTube from short-clip meme platform to veritable TV station/social site, creativity as content has moved on from the early days of process shots, portfolio-adjuncts or exhibition trailers: it’s now a space where people gravitate as much to the creators as their work.

That’s not to say a lot of their work isn’t good – much of it definitely is. One of the masters of this newish personality-driven mode is a Canadian man called Kevin Parry, who’s clocked up more than 1.3 million Instagram followers and over a million YouTube subscribers with videos that range from simple in-camera illusions to stop motion explainers to videos of Kevin getting out of a swimming pool.