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Cracking the Code with Vivian Galinari

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Meet Vivian Galinari, the self-taught coder working with brands like Maybelline and Monki.

Words by 

Madeline Corjuc

Published on 

March 14, 2022

vivian galinari, ux developer, code developer, instagram filter maker, how to make an instagram filter

Our Colour Hunt AR filter sums up our love for colours here at Visualist. And Vivian, or Viv as she likes to introduce herself, was the one to skilfully develop it. Viv is a technical and AR artist—entirely self-taught with the help of the internet. Viv studied business, but after completing her master's degree, she got a taste for something else—she wanted to innovate. In order to do so, she knew she had to learn to code. Nowadays, you'll see Viv changing the world one code at a time. Sometimes she even creates new ones with AR filters.

At the time of writing, Viv was enjoying a 1-month holiday in Brazil but luckily for us she couldn't quite stay away from her email inbox. We speak to Viv about her love for experimentation and the many faces of code...

Coding: the doorway to innovation

I always loved computers, but Computer Science back in the day was very male-dominated. I didn’t feel like I fit the typical male developer stereotype in order to pursue it as a university degree. It’s still a male-dominated field but the democratisation of learning through the web and coding boot camps has opened opportunities to a more diverse crowd and is bringing different profiles to the industry.

I was working in the Creative Industry before and I did a Master's Degree in Innovation in an attempt to bridge the gap and jump into tech. Soon after graduation, I realised that in order to innovate, I had to code. And so, I fully committed myself to learning code on the internet. I definitely don't regret my decision!

Neon beginnings

My first AR filter was inspired by Tracey Emin's neon artwork—it had a couple of her neon writings on the screen that the user could tap and choose to feature themselves with. I still love the concept but funnily enough, it violated Spark AR’s static text policy at that time, so it was never published. Unfortunately, it was very short-lived.

Inspiration = experimentation + information

When I’m making something new, I usually explore all the possibilities within a feature or a capability and combine that with other experiments I have done in the past. Sometimes I draw inspiration from things I see on the internet but, more often than not, I draw my creative inspiration from experimentation and following my intuition.

I also try and keep up to date with new technological releases—more feature releases mean more opportunities to create. I like being part of the Spark AR community and other creative tech communities to see what’s being made.

Best of Instagram

I only post on Instagram when I have something new to show—a filter or a project. But of course, I love the AR filters. Instagram has also recently announced the integration of NFTs into the platform in the near future and I think that will be cool. I wish I was more active on other social media platforms, like Twitter for example. But I think I'd struggle to maintain the same virtual presence that I have on Instagram.

If it's not Instagram, it's...

YouTube. It suits me as a constant learner. I can save playlists and watch them offline. It's handy when I'm on the move.

Girl power

Spark AR has over 110K creators and it’s amazing that the male and female ratio is 50/50, especially considering how male-dominated the tech sector is. I don’t feel so alone there. In fact, it gives me hope for the future. It’s important to cater to diversity to continue producing great creative work.

Know your worth

When I was starting out, I asked for a lot of advice on the freelance process and how to set my rates. One piece of advice that stuck out: do not undercharge nor undersell yourself. But it was only through trial and error that I was able to stick with it. Nowadays I know my worth and can say "No" to projects that do not match my values.

Side hustles

I’m constantly saving links and videos to learn from at a later date. That is what I dedicate most of my free time to. Learning is my side hustle.

Right now, apart from coding, I’m focusing on Computer Graphics and 3D. I have tried to get into NFTs but I’m still not there ye, hopefully one day. I got caught up in the blockchain rabbit hole back in 2018 and got out of it by choosing the AR path. I’m pretty good at focusing on one area at a time and avoiding distractions—I tend to do short explorations rather than being consumed by one interest.

Vivian x Visualist (and other projects)

For my collaboration with Visualist, we wanted to create a colour hunt game that challenged users to interact with their surroundings to find a colour. I had a lot of fun developing and, eventually, playing with the filter.

Recently, I also worked on a mini-game for Maybelline NY in partnership with Popular Studio. The user has to catch the falling mascaras to the sound of the beat, scoring points results in a reveal of the full Maybelline eyelashes look at the end! It was a real test of my logic, as is often the case with mini-games. I ended up using a mix of script and patches to deliver the project. Another recent project was for Monki in collaboration with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. We wanted to raise awareness of the unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in some beauty filters, particularly those that deform the user’s face and have a negative impact on people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. The goal was to promote a petition demanding more transparency over altered images on social media. I did this filter in partnership with PopulAR—we created a magazine cover with positive messages featuring the user and their natural beauty. We purposely avoided any 'beautifying' features.
But right now, I’m on a month-long holiday in Brazil—where I’m originally from. I have a ‘no computer’ policy. It’s the first time in 3 years that I haven’t brought my computer on holiday!

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