#LightBoxFF: David Schwen’s Eternal Sunshine for the Creative Mind

4 minute read

Welcome to this week’s edition of TIME’s LightBox Follow Friday, a series where we feature the work of photographers who are using Instagram in new and engaging ways. Each week we will introduce you to the person behind the feed through his or her pictures and share an interview with the photographer.

This week on #LightBoxFF, TIME speaks with David Schwen (@dschwen), a Minneapolis-based Creative Director and owner of Dschwen LLC. Schwen creates conceptual photo and video illustrations with a lighthearted, witty flair. Continually experimenting with media and new ways to create illustrations, Schwen frequently taps into Instagram to share his work.

Lightbox: Why did you start using Instagram, and how has your use of it and understanding of it changed since your first post?

Schwen: When I started, I used Instagram just as a photo app like everybody else. If you look at my first posts, the photos use a lot of filters, [they are] pictures of what I’m eating and such. I used to post my illustrations on Flickr, and once I started to realize that Instagram was a place where you could share with a big community of creative people, I started to skew more towards making stuff other than selfies. Some of the images on my feed are from client work, but there are also a lot of self-initiated projects from a long list of ideas that I’m always keeping track of. When I have some downtime, I work on these ideas. I have a lot of fun.

Lightbox: Which post inspired the most audience feedback and engagement through likes and comments? Why do you think that photo got people’s attention?

Schwen: I think the most liked image is of the rechargeable banana [see video above]. People really enjoy things that aren’t branded, and aren’t an ad. The video has a pretty funny story. I was headed to work one day and my fiancé told me to bring a banana with me. It was a little bit beat up. (I’m kind of a banana snob: if it gets too ripe I don’t eat it.) While I was sitting at my desk and wishing the banana was a bit more ripe, I noticed it was lying next to my phone charger, and the idea came to make a video. Instead of waiting days for the banana to get blacker, I would microwave the banana in between each picture. Slowly the banana just got more and more disgusting until it exploded. The studio reeked of banana for two days.

Lightbox: What are some other ways you’re getting your creative work out there and disseminating it to the public?

Schwen: I use Twitter — but I’m not too active there, and I’m often reposting Instagram work. I spend some time on Facebook, but I find that I get a lot more responses from Instagram. Not too many sites get quite the amount of traction that Instagram does. People ask me what would I do if Instagram went away, and I’d move on and find other ways to get my work in front of people— not that I foresee Instagram going away any time soon.

Lightbox: What are some of your favorite Instagram feeds? Who is doing interesting things with the platform?

Schwen: There are quite a few people who I think are doing great things, and I’ve met some of them through Instagram. @rachelryle makes stop motions of hand drawn illustrations; @pauloctavious has an innate way of being able to express emotions through his still images; @thiswildidea: one word = Maddie; @fatandfuriousburger — with a burger addiction myself, I can’t get enough of these creative burger masterpieces; @timelapsechicago — this account is run by the Creative Director at Threadless, Craig Shimala (@cshimala), and is filled with amazing timelapse videos of life in Chicago.

David Schwen is a Minneapolis-based Creative Director and owner of Dschwen LLC. Follow him on Instagram: @dschwen

Alexander Ho is the Digital Art Director of TIME. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @alexandermanho

Dec. 15, 2013. MehDavid Schwen
Feb. 16, 2013. Pantone Ketchup, Pantone MustartDavid Schwen
Feb. 1, 2013 Spam NotificationsDavid Schwen
Apr. 10, 2013. PB&JDavid Schwen
Jan. 12, 2013. ClippyDavid Schwen
Sept. 12, 2014. Warby Parker, Breaking BadDavid Schwen
Mar. 26, 2014. Teenage Mutant Ninja LimesDavid Schwen
May 26, 2013. Trophy GoldfishDavid Schwen
May 16, 2013 Is basil supposed to do this?David Schwen
Jan. 27, 2014. It's hard to focus when my coworker acts like this...David Schwen
Feb. 10, 2014. An ode to Instgram's iconDavid Schwen

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