Rosanna Webster, Fon and Fa, and Parker Heyl embody the human qualities of creativity through experimentation

As our project with TikTok continues, three creatives push themselves out of their comfort zones.

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TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Its mission is to inspire and enrich people’s lives by offering a home for creative expression and an experience that is genuine, joyful, and positive.

Throughout our collaboration with TikTok, we’ve been exploring creativity with humanity, commissioning creatives to interpret emotion and in turn, explore the human touch behind all of TikTok’s content. When it comes to creativity in a wider sense, there’s nothing more “human” than experimentation; it takes guts to try something outside of your comfort zone, especially on a client brief where expectations have to be met. So, it’s been incredible to see how many have used this brief as a chance to try something new, to break new ground whether through their process or output.

Take, for example, Kenny Brandenberger’s ident which saw him sharing the process behind his incredible motion design for the first time ever. Or Sophie Koko Gate’s interpretation of “satisfaction” which allowed her to venture into the area of 3D animation. And just a couple of weeks ago we shared Joy Yamusangie’s stop motion embodiment of amusement, yet again another new medium for the artist.

This latest installation of the project is no different, as we have three creatives who have branched out, experimented and investigated: Rosanna Webster, Fon and Fa, and Parker Heyl.

Taking on the emotion of “nostalgia”, Rosanna embraced the carte blanche directive of the project, experimenting with her style. A sort of flicker book of memories, Rossana’s ident acts as a “highlights reel playing through in my head, with fragments of all the fun and beautiful bits, faces and places condensed together,” which is what she feels when thinking back on a time with nostalgia. “I wanted my piece to visualise this warm feeling – using collage to bring sourced imagery together into a hazy, dreamy world.”

It’s an ethereal and much softer response to the brief than we’ve had so far, and seeing it in the TopView slot in the app, it really did feel like a breath of fresh air. This is perhaps because Rosanna had not used the app before working on this project and so her perspective was entirely novel. “I think other platforms allow for a bit more of a slow build, but with TikTok, there’s so much loud attention-grabbing, high energy content going on that this couldn't be subtle, it was important to create something that tried to catch the audience from the first instant,” she adds on what her intentions were.

While Rosanna’s collages are usually 2D, however, Creative Canvas prompted her to explore expanding these collages into 3D, moving the camera around the layers. “I think this makes the work feel much more immersive and tactile somehow!” she says. The only downside of this, she jokes, was having to wait for the files to export – oh, and avoiding getting lost in a TikTok blackhole doing “research”.

For art direction duo Fon and Fa, Creative Canvas was an opportunity to try creating work for a new format. “We’ve never worked in this slim portrait format before, so it was a challenge trying to show so much,” they tell us, “however this gave us a new perspective to work with and challenged us on what to focus on.” Based in London, the duo were tasked with visualising “surprise” and so they spent their time sculpting out graphics and creating a narrative around this emotion.

Initially, they admit, the pair struggled with how to bring the emotion to life: “we thought you’d have to be really literal to express it, so it was a slow start trying to come up with something.” Fon and Fa’s initial concept was to present an imagined world within “a foreign landscape”, a kind of unexpected journey through “TikTok land” where the logo becomes landmarks and each scene is a different “area”. Visually, the work started out sleek but soon took a diversion becoming colour and maximalist. “This is largely because we started re-watching a lot of childhood animes which showed these incredibly impressive character transformation ‘level up’ scenes, so we wanted to re-create our own anime and this idea of the character transforming,” they explain.

What Fon and Fa has produced certainly lives up to that aesthetic, taking viewers on a whirlwind of a visuals journey full of glossy lava-like textures and a character who dons a pink superhero-like suit. It’s sure to be a surprise for anyone opening TikTok.

Lastly, Parker Heyl took on the challenge of creating work for social media in video form for the first time, as someone used to creating sculptures to be viewed IRL. Parker was tasked with visualising entrancement and it’s safe to say he’s done exactly that, producing a sculpture that sees the TikTok logo spinning and interlocking, acting as a giant marble run. “My work was a natural response to this brief; I build mechanical sculptures that animate mathematical patterns,” Parker tells us. “The joy of trivial machines comes from the intersection of mechanical complexity and repetitive simplicity. Objects in motion can be meditative, and I aim for the viewer to become entranced.”

On what it was about the brief that really intrigued him, Parker explains it was in fact that digital communication is in some ways a contradiction to his usual practice. “I was glad to have the opportunity to explore this brief in a new light and bring together the essence of my work and express it within the social media realm, especially during a time of quarantine restriction when other means of exhibition are not possible,” he says. While there can be negatives to social media, he describes how the internet is also a “space where people share their crafts and build communities around very material activities. The spread of the maker movement took place online, as have many social justice and anti-authoritarian protests.” And it’s for this reason that he tried to emphasise the use of hand skills and craft in his ident, also reflecting the notion of creativity with humanity.

Parker settled on the idea of a marble run as these kinds of machines can be viewed online and for him, they have a quality of childlike entrapment. “Their repeating nature allows a sort of mindless hypnosis for the eyes, while simultaneously displaying a mechanical complexity that those with a curious mind can solve,” he says. “For this piece, the logo is used as a supporting structure for a marble, which rolls from one logo to the next.” While this, of course, presented numerous challenges – as the design of the logo was already set meaning he couldn’t “reshape or redesign its curves”, and because simply creating this kind of structure and getting it to actually work is mind-boggling – for Parker, the project is a success. “This project was unique for me as it took place during quarantine,” he concludes. “I had to relocate my studio and create a workshop in my apartment. I was pleased to discover that the new space had a great workflow (I think many of us had this experience with the switch to working from home).” What’s more, “This project gave me the opportunity to document and share my creative process.”

Reflecting on their experience of the project and their introduction to TikTok, all of the creatives see an opportunity to continue sharing their work on the app. Rosanna has “big plans to launch a TikTok dance career off of the back of this,” so watch out Addison Rae. Fon and Fa discovered the design side of TikTok during their process “where a lot of people were creating some really interesting work.” It’s a community they think has a lot of potential to grow, and one they would like to join as well. And finally Parker says he’s interested in working directly with TikTok again in the future on “a piece which can be visited physically or where people can interact with the sculpture more tangibly.”

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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