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.