As we continue our interview series with Spark AR creators, today we’re catching up with Paige Piskin, she’s a well-known digital artist and designer who has created hundreds of makeup and character effects, some of which have generated billions of impressions and try-ons ranging from teens to celebrities. In fact, earlier this year, Elon Musk tweeted a photo of his new baby using Paige’s LiL Savage effect.
It’s hard to believe how quickly Paige’s career as an AR creator has taken shape — she learned about Spark AR, for the first time, a little over a year ago, while she was attending the popular VidCon event. And this is where we’ll start today’s creator Q&A:
OK, so you learned about Spark AR last summer, and that’s what got you into AR?
No! When I first saw Spark AR Studio, I was too intimidated to download it and give it a try. But as I started seeing other digital artists, people like me, who were creating and sharing makeup effects, I decided to reconsider and give it a shot.
How did you learn to use Spark AR Studio?
Once I downloaded it and got started, I spent 10+ hours a day for a few days, just watching tutorials and practicing different techniques. At first, I did the easy stuff like creating a face mesh and adding 2D art files, and then I began exploring the Patch Editor and using different 3D objects from the AR Library. I also joined the Spark AR Facebook Group and was particularly grateful for all the information other creators were sharing, and the kindness and patience they showed me as I asked questions and explored my ideas. That’s basically how I learned, by watching tutorials, reading the guides and asking questions when I got stuck.
So tell us a little more about the effects you’ve been creating?
I focus on creating character and cosplay-style effects, plus makeup effects. While my cosplay effects have been a little less popular (compared to my makeup effects) they’re what drives me the most. That said, I know most people follow me for my makeup effects, so I’m always trying to find ways I can integrate these two styles in my effects. So I’ll make something with a little bit of distortion, a little bit of makeup, and I’ll throw some cyborg character into it, and it’s fun for people. I just love creating rich, character experiences.
How long does it typically take you to create an effect?
At this point, I’ve probably made hundreds of effects. I have such a library of stuff I can now draw from, that it really only takes me a few hours to take an idea from concept to creation. I enjoy building on my ideas, so I’ll often look back at my effects that have performed well and I’ll explore ways I can tweak or somehow improve them.
Most of your effects are face effects, are you exploring world effects too?
Yes! But I’m still early into world effect ideas, only a few months now. I love effects that change environments or make you feel like you’re being transported into a whole new world. For example, I’m experimenting with a dystopian world-like effect that changes the scenery to oranges and reds, with dust particles and cloud colors that tonally make you feel like you’re in that world. I want to keep building on this too, with field of depth objects or animals that focus in and out as you move throughout the scene.
Why do you like using Spark AR Studio for AR creation?
I’ve tried using other AR software, but I feel like the level of control and realism I get with Spark AR Studio — especially for face effects and makeup textures — is hard to beat. I also just appreciate how easy it is to try out new ideas and experiment a bit with the tool.
Where do you find inspiration for your effects?
I love anime, I love comics, cartoon art, etc - again, for me, it’s always been about characters, especially characters with exaggerated features. Which is partly why I was drawn to AR, I love makeup effects and the way they allow people to become their own characters. Additionally, I love to draw and I find that gives me the motivation to create — especially when I share my drawings with other creators who are doing similar things, and I can see their enthusiasm and interest in different ideas.
Do you collaborate regularly with other creators?
Yes. There’s a small group of people I like to talk to, mostly on Instagram, and we chat regularly. We try to help each other out. Sometimes it’s working through challenges or building on ideas, sometimes it’s just helping someone who’s trying to launch their next project. Being a part of this small network has been tremendously helpful and valuable.
How do you approach working with brands?
My experience so far with brands has been really good, but I’m selective about the clients I take on, I defer a lot of brand projects to other creators. I do think brands tend to watch consumer behaviors and they see trends with makeup effects, for example, and they just want to attach to those things, versus exploring character creation, and new looks, which is what I enjoy. I’m also protective of my art and my ideas, and don’t want to create a situation where I have to hand over files or the rights to my creations. For me, I think if I focus on growing my portfolio of work and experience, there will be paths that open up for monetizing things in time.
What Spark AR Studio features are you excited to explore?
I want to dig deeper into Patch Editor, and learn what’s possible with this feature — it’s not something I’ve used a lot, but would like to. For now, I tend to repurpose a lot of the patches I find in the community. I’m not a coder, so I’d rather focus my energy on the user experience. I also want to explore using Spark AR Studio’s AR Library further, especially as more assets are added. I can’t tell you how much time and money I’ve already spent on places like Gumroad and CGTrader.
And what are some features you’d like to see added soon?
I think more scene recognition features would be great - something that would make it easier to automatically recognize and control objects in your environment (like sky color, trees, bushes, flowers, etc). Manually manipulating environments is a little messy today, and I just want to build world effects that look like and feel like sci-fi movies. Also, more body tracking controls, which I think is especially important for fashion creators and brands where you want people to try jewelry, for example, around their necks, hands or wrists, or clothes. Or tattoos on different parts of the body — these are all things many creators are eager to explore.
Our thanks to Paige for taking the time to share her opinions and perspective. You can find more of her Spark AR effects and design work on Instagram @paigepiskin on her website paigepiskin.com, or on the Spark AR Partner Network.
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