Words by Zack Anthony Curran
Adelaide-based programmer, meme maker and artist, Jinnie the Wew, is one of Australia’s most influential AR creators – pushing the boundaries of creativity with his AR lenses on Snapchat. His highly shareable Lenses have garnered almost half a billion views, over 14 million scans and 16 million shares globally.
We caught up with Jinnie the Wew to chat all things Snapchat, lenses and AR.
You're a bit of an enigma, there is so little info online about you! Can you tell us where you're based?
I prefer to keep things out of context, to let people draw their own conclusions - however I am proud to say that I’m based in Adelaide, Australia.
Did you train as an artist?
I never officially trained as an artist, however my whole life I have been into creating in all forms. From creating and editing janky backyard movies with friends and family, to chopping up the beat in Garageband or Ableton Live. I like creating things that can be shared around and enjoyed by all.
How did you start getting into creating Lenses?
I was at a party and a friend of mine showed me a Lens he was able to create and import into Snap. I had no clue that anything like that was possible - so I checked it out the next morning and started creating. At first I didn’t really have any ideas, but there was a very active subreddit (r/SnapLenses) with a lot of ideas floating around.
Creating artwork for Instagram & Snapchat is such a new concept. Are there any influences you can draw on for what you do?
I draw my inspiration from all different aspects of life. I often get inspiration from movies, video games, weird ideas and most importantly memes. If something sparks an idea, I’ll always write it down right away before I forget it. I have a monolithic list of lens ideas that I don’t think I’ll ever finish, as I usually come up with ideas faster than I can flesh them out.
Can you design bespoke lenses for people or brands and is that an area Snapchat and Instagram are heading?
Designing custom Lenses for brands and artists is a big part of the AR ens economy. I have worked with many artists and brands that, just 18 months ago, I would never have imagined getting the chance to work with.
Describe your lens style
I’m not really sure I could describe my style in a way that would encompass all of my lenses. A majority of my lenses involve fun, memes and/or some sort of interactivity driven component that gives the user an option to use the lens in their own unique way.
What does the Snap OLC community mean to you?
Being apart of the OLC has always felt like being apart of a second family. There are so many amazing creators to collaborate and share knowledge with. My fellow OLC are always inspiring me, and blowing me away with their skills. Due to the OLC being a worldwide program, there is such a diverse range of expertise and culture that is shared among our group.
AR is a pretty exciting space to be working in. People love it. Where do you see the technology taking us in the near future?
I see AR being used everywhere, in a bunch of different ways. Eventually AR will be built into glasses/eyewear and will pair with phones/act as a phone and constantly feed us updated information about the environment around us.
I read a quote on 9gag recently saying a guy took a few years off dating apps and when he went back on it was just pictures of girls pretending to be cats for attention. Is this your fault?
I’m happy to say this one is not on me - however I have started some other trends that I have mixed feelings about. Most notably the Face tracker trend that went viral all over Snapchat and Tik-Tok. That trend is more or less a Frankenstein’s monster to me. On one hand I’m pretty impressed in the virality of the trend, and some of the ways others have used it - I have seen some pretty cringeworthy content driven by that lens/trend.
What would you say to other young creators wanting to move into lens creation?
I would encourage them to go for it! Lens Studio is super forgiving on beginners and you can only get better at it as you use it more. The support and community are great as well! Some additional advice I’d give is to not create for the masses - don’t make something solely because you think a lot of people would like it. Create something you enjoy creating, something you can enjoy with your friends. If you create with that mindset, I’m sure others will love what you create.
What's next for you?
The exposure and support from being an OLC has opened up many opportunities for me. I have managed to start up my own Digital Agency, mainly specialising in social media lenses/filters. I’ve always been into fashion, so expanding my business into this space is something that I’ve been looking to do. For the time being I want to keep creating, and to share my creations with the world.
Favourite pieces at the moment?
As for my favourite lens it'd be a toss up between these two:
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!