Designing Wild New Augmented Reality Stories With Social Media Artist Cyrene Quiamco

What would you create in an augmented world?

Cyrene Quiamco, better known as CyreneQ, is a Filipino-American social media artist, influencer, published author and Augmented Reality Lens Creator. She is known for creating traditional and augmented art on Snapchat with over 1.5 billion views on Snapchat and have received multiple industry awards. Cyrene Quiamco chatted with Forbes about her experience in AR and beyond.

Goldie Chan: Hello Cyrene, thanks for taking the time out of your busy AR creation schedule to talk to us. What has your career path been?

Cyrene Quiamco: Ever since I was a kid, I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in art. Choosing art was scary since there is a stigma of being a starving artist. I knew early on I needed to work extra hard to make my dream as an artist come true. My art career started in high school when I would create t-shirt designs and sell them to school clubs. I remember purchasing my first laptop with the profits I made from selling my shirt designs.

With that laptop, it opened the world of freelance. I was able to spend my free time after school doing freelance gigs where I would design logos, brochures and websites. That continued throughout college. During my sophomore year, I was able to purchase and pay off my first house, in cash, with the money I made from my freelance and extra scholarship money.

After college, I worked for Verizon as a web designer. I still continued my freelance on the side. It was when I created a website for this new app called Snapchat that my career took a huge turn. Snapchat back then was known for sending pictures that would disappear in 10 seconds. There was a community of artists that doodled on top of disappearing pictures. The artwork was so amazing that I felt it was a waste that they disappeared, so I created a website that archived and showcased these pieces. It was being involved in this new Snapchat art community that I was able to create a following and a career with my doodles.

My most viral art series was my celebrity selfie series. I would take a selfie and doodle a celebrity with me. Next thing I knew, brands were hiring me to attend red carpet events and take pictures with real celebrities! I was traveling almost every other week going to so many events, taking videos, doing art, and getting pictures with celebrities! I loved it, but I am also an introvert, as most artists are. While it did get me out of my shell, I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to explore other ways I can use social media for my art. Then, I discovered Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality not only allowed me to create stories with my art in social media, but it also allowed others to create their own stories using my art. My AR creations have gathered over 1.5 billion views to date and have received multiple awards. I am now creating AR experiences in collaboration with the biggest brands. I am so blessed and thankful I was able to pursue my passion in art and create a thriving career with it. I’m also able to share my art journey with my mom and sister, my two biggest supporters, travel buddies, and art critics. I have also allowed my mom to retire early, and now we are in the process of buying a new house, again, in cash. It’s a surreal career experience, and I can’t wait to see what’s next with my art!

Chan: I know that you’ve worked on hundreds (if not thousands of projects). What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

Quiamco: I love working on educational augmented reality projects. AR can be fun, but there’s also utility to it. I’ve created lenses that teach people how to draw, make origami and practice calligraphy.

Chan: And since your work is virtual, how would you describe your personal brand online?

Quiamco: It’s everything I enjoy – creating art, spending time with Rambo, our pet bearded dragon, traveling with my family – all my passions! It’s easier to create content when it’s authentic and I don’t have to change myself for my own brand.

Chan: What projects are you currently working on?

Quiamco: I’m working on an educational art tool that helps people draw using augmented reality. It’ll utilize the Snapchat spectacles – wearable glasses that can project AR items through the glasses.

Chan: You’ve now worked on many projects. What is a dream project or collaborator you’d love to work on or with?

Quiamco: My dream partner is Disney. Not only am I a HUGE Disney fan, but I believe Disney has always been an early adopter of emerging social media and tech. Disney was one of the first brands I worked with as a Snapchat artist when I was just starting out. I thought it was a dream when Disneyland reached out and hired me to create doodles around the park!

Since then, I’ve worked with Disney a few times, creating Augmented Reality lenses for movie promos. Now I work full time with Disney, leading their Augmented Reality efforts for their park app experience. Dreams do come true!

Chan: What is your favorite part of creating AR filters for clients and brands?

Quiamco: My favorite part is figuring out what’s possible with AR since it’s still very new.

Chan: What do you believe makes a story come alive?

Quiamco: With AR, the story begins with you, but continues on with the people who use your lenses.

Chan: Any last branding or career advice for this year?

Quiamco: Never be afraid to pursue your passion. It might be a tough path, but that’s what makes it fun. Enjoy the journey – the ups and the downs. Obstacles and challenges are what makes it more fulfilling when you finally reach your goal.

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