We had the good fortune of connecting with Clay Weishaar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clay, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my own business came out of a love of technology and art and film and my journey working in the Los Angeles creative industry. It was a natural progression of being in interactive and film production companies. The artists, producers, designers, and technologists at these companies inspired me and taught me so much about collaboration and working with a team. Working at A-List production companies is very demanding, competitive and has such a high bar for quality and pressure to create award winning projects. Everyone you work with is at the top of their game. All-though it was stressful at times it put me in a situation where I was continually challenged to refine my creativity and craft. We all pushed each other to create better work and do things that have not been done before in our industry. We all inspired each other to eventually go off and create work that made us excited about our job as creatives and artists. When I was in the trenches with these people and experiencing the highs and lows together on the projects that you collaborate on I didn’t realize that I was building valuable relationships. that would someday help me build a successful studio, So many of these peers are now friends and clients that I work with on a repeat bases. We have all helped each other as creatives, artists and humans, I am so thankful. Its extremely gratifying being able to take everything I have learned and the relationships I have built over the years and wake up everyday doing the work I love to create.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I create digital art, that is experienced through the camera as Augmented Reality experiences. I started experimenting with the technology around the time I was working for Ridley Scott as a creative director in a writers room work environment. Working primarily on science fiction concepts I had so many ideas in my head that I wanted to visualize. It was around the time Snap chat released their new software Lens Studio. I had recently completed a Hackathon at the Fox Innovation Lab and was really excited about new forms of story telling that moved beyond the flat screen. I began experimenting with the new software and creating the visuals I had in my imagination. Seeing these ideas and visuals come to life In a way that was tangible was extremely gratifying. Being able to look through the camera and walk completely around your creation and seeing it integrate as a holographic visual was extremely exciting. I really got hooked at that point and started creating hundreds of experiments over the next couple years, imagining the endless possibilities with this new medium and how it’s going to the way we interact with the world in the future. There were challenges with the limitations of a then fledgling technology, allot of technical challenges and when I started really not much information out there on how to create these experiences. I was completely unaware that just blocks from my home in Venice Beach, one company was thinking years ahead of everyone and innovating in this space pioneering the medium and creating was of making more accessible to creators like myself. Snapchats AR team formed a global community of creators that were all experiencing the same challenges and got us talking. Allot of us met online, and eventually Snap flew people out from all over the world to meet each other in person and partner with them in pioneering a new technology. Over the next couple years all the people that were experimenting in this space, began getting opportunities to work with Snapchat and build a business out of AR. I continued creating art and after releasing hundreds of AR filters my work has over 3.6 billion impressions on social media, and I have been able to share my work with people all over the world. This has led to me getting represented by Los Angeles based talent agency Hplus Creative along side a roster of some of my favorite digital artists. I was fortunate to be able to ride the AR filter wave early and feel incredibly grateful for all the opportunties to work with and collaborate with brands like Gucci, Nike & Adidas and continue to make a living doing this type of work. A few years ago I was dreaming about the possibility of creating Augmented Reality experiences full time, and starting my own studio focused on digital art and collaborating with brands. Today thanks to the support from Snap and my clients, I have been able to get a small studio space in Venice beach and focus on creating work that I love.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Los Angeles for its diversity, I recently worked on the team at Gensler at their office in DTLA, being from Venice it was like visiting an entirely different city. I love it for its vibrancy and infinite number of hidden gems. Day 1. Breakfast and coffee at Gjusta, then walk to the spend the a few hours chilling on Venice Beach. After getting some sun, walk to Abbott Kinney for a coffee at Intelligentsia, and slice of Abbotts Pizza, check out shops like Tortoise, LCD, and Stronghold. Continue walking up through the Venice canals on my way back home. Day 2. Grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich at GTA, then head Downtown for a full day and evening. Starting off at Grand Park, and then head to the Grand Central Market for lunch ending up at The LA Athletic Club and going for a swim, sauna and afternoon cocktail at their bar. Freshen up and grab a ride over to explore the shops in the Arts District, eventually ending up at Dover Street Market. Evening would be all about the rooftop bars. I would start out at Perch for dinner, live music, drinks and the sunset. Then Broken, Shaker, Standard, and finish of at the Ace Hotel. Topping the night off with a Taco from the place right next to the Ace Rooftop entrance. Day 3. I would keep it local, Go surfing and enjoy the beach, eat at POKE POKE, Make it to the other room for a sunset beer, then walk down AK to Tasting Kitchen for dinner and one of my favorite drinks “The Brave Heart” and an order of french fries for an appetizer. After dinner grab whiskey sours and party with the locals at the Rooster. Day 4. Wake up late walk to Taco Chihuahua for crunchy tacos and Jarritos then Paddle boarding and Kayaking in the Marina at Mothers Beach. Evening at the townhouse for a game of pool with local friends and comedy in the basement. Day 5. Head out to Malibu to Point Dume for a hike, exploring the tide pools, surfing and picnic on the beach. Visit Malibu Seafood on the way back for a fish and chip dinner. Day 6. Journey to Highland Park, visiting York Blvd for all its gems. A Horchata con esspresso at Cafe De Leche, Vintage shopping at Urchin Vintage, Permanent Records, and one of my favorites El Huarache Azteca for the most delicious Huaraches. Evening drinks and dancing at Gold Line Bar hoping to hear Peanut Butter Wolf spin from his personal vinyl collection, Day 7. Visit the Eames house and garden, picnic and hike in the Palisades. Arrive back in Venice for dinner and wine at Felix. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Three years ago, I started using Snapchat’s augmented reality to experiment with and started putting out content on their platform for fun. I really didn’t think anything of it. I was surprised to get and email from Snap, and an invite to get on a call with them. I really had no idea what this was about, it was kind of exciting. I remember them telling me the AR filter I created was trending and getting millions of views. They invited me to be part of a small group of Augmented Reality creators at the time and get access to their latest creation tools. I started this journey and over the past 3 years this large tech company full of amazing people has been extremely supportive. Providing me with state of the art technology for creation, opportunities to showcase my work to a global audience, speaking opportunities, and opportunities to build a business around something I am passionate about. My Shoutout goes to the Lens Studio, and Snap Labs Team, as well as the founders at Snap., and all the producers,, designers, technologists and creatives I have collaborated with over the years. Thanks for your support!