There are many content creators online. You have access to an abundance of lucrative digital creative opportunities through platforms like Instagram and YouTube. With so much content flooding our social networks, it raises the question: How can a creator be unique? You need drive, talent and vision.
Look no further than the influential creators that we’ve featured here. They own their spaces, expand what’s possible, and innovate the future. They create, but also observe, connect, as well as keep their impact in mind.
Swopes:Since the inception of Instagram, Elise Swopes (or just @Swopes) has been at forefront of digital art. Her work has evolved with the changing landscape. Now, she’s at the forefront of NFT art, thanks to her signature surrealist cityscapes.
But those aren’t the only possibilities she sees in the new medium – there’s also an abundance of opportunity for women of color. “It feels like a great responsibility right now for women of color,”Swopes: “It is a very heavy load, but it’s not one that I would give up because I see that it’s worth it just by the peer ability for ownership, the peer ability for generational wealth, the peer ability for innovation and equity,”Swopes.
Her new work takes her advocacy further: She’s working to put incarcerated artists’ work on blockchain. Swopes also created a digital gallery accessible to their families. “I just want people to understand what art can do for other people.”
Karen X Cheng: If you need some levity in your life, head to Karen X. Cheng’s Instagram and Facebook (@karenxcheng). Director, creative director and queen behind viral content, Karen X. Cheng shares a wide range of mind-bending videos along with the behind-the scenes scoop. It’s something she’s had years of experience doing, since developing the Donut Selfie, which earned her 1 million views in a single day.
Her drive to achieve her goals? “It’s when you have an idea, and it’s uncomfortable for you to hold it in your head. You just want to create it and make it,” Karen says. “I actively say, ‘Nothing has to have a point. You just do it.’ I’ve realized that my best ideas come from when I’m playing around.”
It’s that ease that’s characterized her content with positivity, education, and exploration. Now, she’s exploring another medium. With Meta, she’s completely redesigning choreography from the ground up, specifically for virtual reality. Her creativity is unbridled, and this project is only the latest example.
Amber Whittington: Amber Whittington is an activist, creator and host. She has been a pioneer in creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA people for over ten years. It started with posting YouTube videos for STEMs, which she describes as androgyny and the cross-section between stud and fem—since she didn’t see these resources available to understand herself.
Since then, her platform has evolved to be a place for discussing even the most controversial topics. You’ll find content on everything from emotional boundary setting to sexual pleasure and social justice on her Instagram.
Now, she’s a board member at Lambda – an organization fighting for the civil rights of the LGBTQIA community – and continues to speak at conferences and panels worldwide. “Over time, I just started being like, ‘I got to talk about more serious topics and do it in a way that’s digestible.’”
Eitan: Eitan Bernath (@eitan) is sitting atop an empire he has built himself, and he’s only 19-years-old. He is a celebrity chef, author, entertainer, and social media star. Drew Barrymore Show. Through all of it, he has amassed over 3.1 million followers on Facebook.
At eight years of age, he began to work in the kitchen and by eleven, he was a contestant. Chopped. The prodigy was exposed to the world and took his talents to Instagram. His simple cooking videos quickly gained him a following. “People love inspirational content,” Eitan says. “To me, the key elements of every video are the visuals being strong, the lighting’s good, the food looks great, the energy’s there.”
It’s tempting to dismiss internet fame as chance, catching the right wave at the right time. Eitan, however, is more deliberate. “I’m an analytics nerd. I like to figure out new concepts and really hone what I’m doing by looking at the data. Sometimes people will be like, ‘You’re so lucky that you grew so fast.’ Obviously, there’s luck involved, but it’s pretty calculated.”