As we continue our interview series with Spark AR creators, today we’re catching up with Aleksey Efremov, a Moscow, Russia-based artist and multimedia designer. Aleksey talks about how he discovered AR, where he finds inspiration, and offers some helpful advice for any creator thinking about promoting their work. It’s a great interview, enjoy!
Tell us a little about your career?
I’m currently a creative freelancer working on media art projects. Most of my time is focused on ideating and creating augmented reality experiences for brands, but I also participate in digital art exhibitions and occasionally guest lecture too. Before I got into AR creation, I was a multimedia designer, doing a lot of your typical digital and web production work.
What got you interested in AR?
I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, so when I initially discovered AR, I invested a lot of time trying to figure out how I could adapt my skills, and learn new ones, to do more with this emerging medium. There are just so many possibilities, which is what really got me hooked. I know AR is still in its infancy, but even now it feels like we’re pioneering something big here, a whole new form of creative expression.
Where do you find inspiration for your AR projects?
I find inspiration in a variety of places: sometimes, it’s found in mathematical or physical patterns that I study. Other times, I find participating in art events inspiring. But often, I enjoy simply watching the world around me and seeing how people interact and behave, especially with AR. It makes me happy that I can use this medium to create experiences that help people communicate and connect with each other.
What was the first effect you created?
I published my first effect a while back, initially on Facebook-only, but now it’s on Instagram too — it’s called Scanography. This was an idea based on my personal scanography experience, and I've since created a second version using Render Passes patches. Over the last year or so, I’ve created hundreds of effects, some of which you can see today on the Effects tab of my Instagram profile. I enjoy experimenting and researching different AR capabilities and interactions, like recently with hair segmentation. Sometimes I’ll land on something quickly and just publish it, but more often I’ll take what I learn and apply it to other projects.
What Spark AR Studio features do you use the most?
I discovered Spark AR Studio over two years ago, and I’ve been using it steadily ever since. I think it’s a very useful tool for AR creation. It’s hard to pick one feature or capability, because I think you end up using all of them, over time. I try to focus more on which features are the best for bringing my ideas to life. And if I’m not familiar with them, I dig into the documentation and take it from there.
Do you have advice for new AR creators?
There’s so much to learn, don’t let it overwhelm you. Take it one day at a time, but do try and learn one new thing every single day. Once you develop some foundational skills, it’s much easier to start pushing yourself to produce more original effects.
What are some common AR requests you get from brands?
Brands used to approach me to explore more artistics or abstract experiences, but I think that behavior is changing. I think brands are increasingly seeing the value and utility of AR, and they’re being more intentional with their project briefs. For example, I’m seeing more interest now in AR for shopping. Brands want to build experiences that help people shop online and virtually try-on shoes or accessories before they buy. I’m also continuing to see brands interested in interactive effects, like AR games.
Do you have any tips for promoting and marketing your effects?
Before you get too far into marketing tactics, try to ask if the effect or experience you’ve just created is going to make people feel something new, different — ideally, something positive. I really think that’s half the battle when it comes to marketing your work. Your AR effect has to make an emotional connection.
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